Covid-19

Videos: Socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis

Watch videos giving socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis below. Many are subtitled. Click in the top right of the video, for the contents of the playlist, and to watch other ones. See Workers' Liberty's channel for other playlists and videos.

Isolation pay in test centres: plug the loopholes!

Following pressure from Labour MPs, notably Emily Thornberry, and the Safe and Equal campaign last winter, we were told that “the Department of Health and Social Care has approved the payment of occupational sick pay for periods of self-isolation for all workers at Test Centres. This commitment has also been included in the tender specifications for the new Test Centre contract which commences in July 2021.” As Safe and Equal activists have visited Test Centres across the country, we have found that the situation is more complicated. The government has outsourced the Test Centres to G4S, Serco...

Impose Covid responsibility on the bosses

It’s down to the unions — or workers self-organising in un-unionised workplaces — to hold the line on virus precautions. It’s possible. Some employers are already keeping the Covid precautions in their shops and offices after 19 July. In London Covid precautions (masks) will be mandatory on the Tube and buses. Workers whether in unions or not have a legal right to insist bosses respect workplace safety, and to refuse to enter work areas which pose danger (section 44 of the Employment Protection Act 1996). The precautions will be more effective if the labour movement can win social measures. A...

Make unions fight for workplace safety!

The Tory government is setting England on course for a gamble with Covid-19. The labour movement is not well-placed to second-guess scientists. But we must step up our fight for the social measures we’ve long been campaigning for, and which are known to alleviate the spread of Covid. On 1 July the editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) responded to the appointment of Sajid Javid as health minister with a list of demands. Those included: • Proper financial support for those who need to isolate. • Invest in ventilation. • Make FFP3 masks mandatory for all staff treating patients with...

“Definitely misguided... a bit absurd”

Some scientists very critical of the Tories, like Allyson Pollock and Alasdair Munro, are cautious about condemning the 19 July restriction-easing plans. Whatever we do, Covid will continue to swirl around the world on one level or another for a long time. Lockdowns have social and medical costs, cannot be continued forever, and may even make later virus-surges worse. Sustainable long-term mitigation will be reached only by vaccinating and revaccinating the elderly and vulnerable, and developing and refreshing broad immunity among the younger by us getting the virus, probably, several times...

Complexities of vaccine policy

Unite, Unison and GMB leaders’ opposition to compulsory vaccination for care home workers, echoed by Ali Treacher’s article (Solidarity 598), has me in two minds. At the very least, it’s more complicated than presented. It is undoubtedly a cynical and hypocritical move by a government that has demonstrated extreme disdain for the lives of both workers and care home residents, refusing the most obvious and far more important measures like universal 100% sick pay. However, that hypocrisy doesn’t mean the labour movement should necessarily campaign against the policy itself, or its extension to...

BEIS strike from 19 July (John Moloney's column)

Our outsourced worker members at the government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will strike for three days, from 19 July. These are workers who’ve had to come into work throughout the pandemic, despite the buildings they service being mostly empty. They’re fighting for increased pay, a bonus for having worked through lockdown, and annual leave entitlement owed from last year. On 14 July we’ll get the result of our ballot of cleaners and toilet attendants in Royal Parks, who’re resisting potential job cuts and who want party of terms with those who work direct for...

Tax billionaires to rebuild the NHS!

As lockdown measures are further lifted, the NHS is under huge pressure. Numbers of Covid cases admitted to hospital are rising for a third time, and sickness and isolation levels amongst staff are again increasing. Unlike last year, this pressure is on top of the provision of “normal” services, where, in turn, demand has escalated because of the pandemic. Waiting lists for consultant-led planned hospital treatment stand at a record high of 5.3 million, despite the restrictions on GP referrals over the last year. Last month was also the busiest ever at emergency departments across the country...

Workers’ control for safety at work

Over fifteen thousand (15,263) working-aged people have died of Covid-19. Employers have registered just 387 as work-related deaths. That is just one example of the extraordinary efforts the boss class has made to deny and minimise workplace transmission. In fact, at most of the high points in the pandemic indoor, social mixing has mostly been at work, or at someone else’s workplace — shop, place of education, public transport, hospital, or care-home. A lot of household to household transmission of the virus must have happened in a workplace, and a large number of those dead workers must have...

World Covid on the up

World Covid rates are on the up again, with surges in Russia, Indonesia, Bangladesh. Countries with very high vaccination rates such as the Seychelles and Israel are still seeing spikes. This pattern is likely to continue as Delta spreads across the world. In Britain, thanks to vaccination, hospitalisations and deaths are rising much slower than cases, but they are still rising, and will likely rise more if precautions are lifted on 19 July. To reach “Zero Covid” may be unrealistic. To get rates declining, and keep them declining (bar probably inevitable short spikes, probably requiring short...

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