Covid-19 crisis: What we demand

Submitted by martin on 4 May, 2020 - 9:13 Author: Workers' Liberty

The video, below, of the demands on this page, was created before we added "A shorter working week with no loss of pay, and an expansion of public service and 'green new deal' jobs." It is otherwise correct.

We demand, and we call on the labour movement to demand:

1. Requisition

Take into public ownership and under democratic control:
• private hospitals
• the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, enabling coordinated and increased production of tests, PPE, ventilators, etc, and coordinated research into treatments and vaccines
• social care provision
• high finance, to prevent the pandemic being compounded by a credit implosion causing economic slump
• transport, logistics, supermarkets, and other sectors where coordinated mobilisation is necessary.

2. Fight for workers’ control

The safest, most effective way to organise production is for workers ourselves, taking expert advice, to identify and run essential services.

Workers can determine the best working methods, and the best time, pace and methods to ease restrictions.

3. The labour movement is an essential service!

The labour movement has a duty to make itself an essential service, to:
• impose workers’ control on the emergency response, to stop its obstruction by bureaucratic inertia and profit priorities
• defend workers’ rights: including those still at work in essential services, those self-isolating on public health advice or at home to look after children, and those already laid off
• stand up for the worst-off, who generally suffer the worst in epidemics: low-paid and insecure workers, homeless people, migrants, prisoners, disabled and elderly people, ethnic minorities.

4. Defend workers’ rights

• All whose work is not essential to be at home, working if possible, on special leave otherwise, on full pay.
• Full pay for every worker (including zero-hours, agency, and subcontractor staff) who takes time off following public health advice or to care for dependants.
• Cancel rent, mortgage, and utility payments.
• Work or full pay! Immediately accessible fallback pay for all. A shorter working week with no loss of pay, and an expansion of public service and "green new deal" jobs.

5. Take care of the worst-off

• Release people held in detention centres and offer accommodation if needed.
• The same for prisoners, excluding only those who pose a threat to human life and safety.
• Scrap "No Recourse to Public Funds" and other rules and charges restricting public services for migrants.
• Suspend enforcement of restrictions on migrants; enable "illegal" migrants to get help, and defend their rights, without risk of deportation.
• House the homeless; rehouse the overcrowded; stop evictions.
• Make hotels etc. available to domestic violence victims.
• Increase welfare benefits.
• Stop the coercion of vulnerable people to agree to "Do Not Resuscitate" orders.

6. Defend civil liberties

There is a public-health case for restricting movement and assemblies in the pandemic.

But the Coronavirus Act goes beyond this. In particular, we demand the repeal of the relevant sections and the restoration of the rights of:
• people in mental distress not to be incarcerated on the say-so of one doctor alone
• bereaved people to a proper investigation of the death of their loved ones
• education of children with special needs
• people to be assessed for social care needs and have those needs met.
We want the right to strike, picket and demonstrate restored (with due care for social distancing), and we champion workers using the legal right to withdraw from any work they believe poses a serious and imminent danger to health and safety.

7. International solidarity

The labour movement has a duty to think internationally.

We demand massive aid to poorer countries, and that people in refugee camps around the world are resettled in decent conditions.

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