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Coronavirus outbreak in Britain

Full pay and full sick pay for all – take all workers in-house!
NHS take over all private health provision!

ISL Statement

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus emerged in China as a consequence of the huge and lucrative wildlife market, which continued to grow despite evidence of its link to the SARS epidemic 2003. In China, the farming and trading of wild animals continued and grew with a general lack of regulations just as occurs with the extraction of raw materials and pursuit of profit in many industries. In this “globalised” world where the drive is to extract maximum value conditions are forced downward creating a world division of labour without safeguards and rights. Billions of workers across the world face a living hell as capitalist production has no concern for the health, safety and well-being of human beings.

In the UK, the COVID-19 crisis has arrived at a time when many are still trying to overcome the flood disaster that has devastated their lives and homes and at a time of increasing economic fragility following Johnson’s Brexit. Each crisis compounds and reinforces this crisis because the anarchy of government austerity policies have removed people’s safety nets, without appropriate health and benefit support and an increased precarity in their work and living conditions.

The world division of labour aims to maximise exploitation and profit, it means that plans based on profit not need. Currently ventilators for patients critically ill with Coronavirus are a matter of life and death and in Britain there are only 5000 ventilators. Ventilators are manufactured in the sweatshops of China. NHS privatisation has meant ensuring not what may be needed but based on what is considered an “average” or lesser need. This assumes that health services can be run like “just-in-time” production – a methodology in manufacturing that is now clearly considered to be fragile and unstable.

Britain, due to austerity cuts and privatisation, has the least number of intensive-care beds per person of any country in Europe. In 2018 the NHS had just 4,100 intensive care and high-dependency beds.

Every European country is facing the crisis with the methods of EU brutality. In Italy closing down the country did not mean stopping production and safe guarding workers. A strikes emerged because of anger against the government disregard of workers’ safety. We are in full solidarity with Italian workers who are striking. The EU and each EU country’s rulers are putting the interests of profit higher than people’s health. The best way to defend workers and people of Europe is to end the EU of banks and austerity. Solidarity to all workers in their struggle to defend lives.

Johnson aims to save banks and big business

Johnson’s government plan for COVID-19, just like the budgets they have passed, is aimed to save the banks and business through tax breaks and with a few weak measures for the population which puts many workers’ lives at risk. Workers’ lives matter

For example, the WHO (World Health Organization) stressed that countries should track and test every case of coronavirus to stop the pandemic, a day after the Johnson announced that only the most seriously ill in hospitals would be tested.

There is not enough safety equipment for staff carrying out the testing and there is not enough or any deep cleaning of public transport. Yet the last go government package as we write is 350bn.

Increase NHS funding to rapidly expand beds and staff

Profit over people means a lack of capacity in the NHS to cope with Coronavirus – ICU beds, A&E provision, trolley waits of well over the 4-hour target, 43,000 nurse vacancies, community hospitals closed, the fragmentation of our National Health Service into disconnected marketised segments. Drastic measures must rapidly reverse the cuts.

That means emergency legislation so that all health services must be under the control of the NHS – remove all privatised provision and increase NHS funding to meet the needs of population to face the crisis. Make banks and big business pay.

Full workers protection

Health and medical care in public places such as transport must be improved and measures taken to safeguard any workers in factories, workplaces and all public spaces.

Full protecting for all precarious and vulnerable workers is not being implemented. Reports show precarious workers are not being paid or are being sacked such as in London. The Private company ISS did not pay staff or provide them with protective clothing at Lewisham Hospital in London.

Cleaning, portering and catering staff at Lewisham Hospital, where Coronavirus cases have been treated, walked out. ISS and outsourcing companies are not fit to employ anyone.

Precarious work in public and private workplaces now endangers all, precarious workers provide essential work for all. All workers must have proper contracts, conditions of work and pay, and must have full sick pay, not the miserly ₤18.00 (that the TUC agreed that figure) a day that will not pay for housing, fuel, food and family costs. Precarious work has to be banned by emergency legislation.

Tenants

The government’s recent budget made no plan to protect renters from eviction or rent arrears. Their commitment to pay for statutory sick pay falls far short of the figure most renters pay every month. The average rent for a one bedroom flat according to the BBC is £650 per month. 4 weeks statutory sick pay is £377.

Some major UK banks are already announcing mortgage and payment holidays for mortgage holders. There are 2.5 million private landlords in this country, and the security and safety of renters cannot be left to a landlord’s good will, otherwise evictions will take place.

A workers programme to meet the crisis

We offer the following programme that unions and neighbourhood committees should develop:

  • Mass virus testing now and full transparency of data regarding the spread of the virus.
  • Rent and eviction freezes for private, council or association tenants. No evictions!
  • Suspend all payments for utilities and debt obligations!
  • The TUC measures are not enough they must demand an immediate end to all precarious work, full control of the NHS of all health services.
  • Build joint health and safety control by workplace unions, we must control our health and safety.
  • In large companies, maintain full pay without using holidays or sick leave.
  • In small businesses, full pay with state support for companies not able to pay.
  • Immediate closure of all offices and call centres, with the transformation of work to domestic online.
  • No layoffs without full pay.
  • Guarantee civil and democratic rights.

We have to fight the pandemic and our government’s plans to attack our rights, jobs and democratic freedoms. Before capitalist barbarism destroys us, it is necessary to destroy this system and build a socialist society.

Workers and neighbourhoods can be united in struggle and a socialist society built for the need of the many. The British parliament is incapable of fighting for workers’ rights. It is a ‘democracy’ for the rich and powerful.

Only a socialist society based on workers and neighbourhood councils can prevent viruses and eradicate poverty.