We send our condolences and solidarity to the family, friends, and workmates of Belly Mujinga, a station worker from Victoria who has died of Covid-19, after being spat on at work by someone claiming to have the virus.
This tragedy highlights the terrible risks to which frontline, public-facing workers are exposed. But could Belly's death have been avoided? Why haven't frontline railway workers been issued with effective masks (not just cotton face coverings), and why wasn't a worker like Belly, who had underlying respiratory conditions, given paid leave from work, or as a minimum reallocated from frontline duties, to protect her health at this dangerous time?
As Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of Belly's union, TSSA, put it: "As a vulnerable person in the ‘at risk’ category, and her condition known to her employer, there are questions about why she wasn’t stood down from frontline duties early on in this pandemic. Rather than talking about the easing the lockdown, the government must first ensure that the right precautions and protections have been taken so that more lives are not lost."
We should not be put at risk for our bosses' profits.