Tag Archives: coronavirus

Four things we should learn from the Coronavirus pandemic

Now we know how much we depend on front line workers
Now we know how much we all depend on front line workers

In the current circumstances, most of us are forced to think in the ‘here and now’. With the level of threat posed by Cornoavirus, the risk to life, and the disruption to our working, social and family lives, that is a very understandable and very necessary reaction.

#Number 1:

The deeper this crisis gets, the more we are all dependent on the people who keep our society functioning. The much talked about front line would not exist if it were not for supermarket staff and other essential retail workers, delivery drivers, warehouse staff, cleaners and refuse workers. They are the base which supports the rest of the front line, and ensures that all the other necessary support services can do ther job.

Yet some of the most important people we rely on are those on minimum wages, zero hours contracts and precarious employment.

#Number 2:

The National Health Service has stepped up to meet the challenge of C19 in a way in which few other organisations could do. Its staff and its work is quite rightly being lauded and publicly acclaimed.

Yet only a few months ago, for the first time in its history, the Royal College of Nursing, had to call on its members to take industrial action to secure pay parity and safe working conditions. Sinn Fein, the DUP and the other executive parties had been denying them both demands for years.

For at last ten years the NHS budgets have been slashed by Tories in Westminster and in Stormont. All seems to be forgotten as the very people responsible for the cuts fall over themselves to applaud the nurses they refused to pay

#Number 3:

The examples of businesses ignoring the health and well being of their workers by refusing to comply with basic public health and government guidance on social distancing and other measures, demonstrates the priority which the relentless pursuit of profit has over the well being of employees.

There are also many examples of non-essential businesses seeking to trade on the flimsiest of excuses and some times on no excuse at all. Viruses come and go: production and profit are a constant.

The importance and benefits of trade union membership and of a unionised workforce has never been more evident. This crisis has shown that the health and well being of many working people is threatened on several fronts.

#Number 4:

The Coronavrus pandemic will end. When it does, many of the changes which it brought about to the way we work and live our lives could have a lasting effect.

Capitalism has a single focuses: profit. It will not look back and say ” How can we ensure that front line workers get the best deal and the best wages?” It will not be meeting with trade unionists to discuss better conditions, better pay or greater involvement in firms, factories or services.

Neither capitalism, nor the political parties which support and administer it, will be looking at the NHS and saying ” How can we improve this, how can we make it better , or how can we fund it more effectively”.

They are much more likely to seeking ways of privatising and profiting from public and personal health. They are much more likely to be drafting plans for even more restrictions on trade unions and union membership and they are much more likely to be looking at ways of capping the minimum wage, extending zero hours contracts and diluting workers rights.

In times of uncertainty, only two things are guaranteed: capitalism will never waste a crisis and working people will be paying the bill.

The plans are drafted and waiting for the storm to pass. We must be prepared and waiting too.

If employers cannot protect their workforce they should close down immediately

Workplace guidelines on health and safety must be enforced

The Workers Party has echoed calls by the trade union movement and others for the immediate and enhanced protection of workers in all essential services.

It is very clear that many workers delivering essential services are being put at risk by their employers who are refusing to adhere to public health guidelines on social distancing and personal protection measures.

It is also clear that a number of companies whose businesses are not essential in the current crisis are continuing to trade and are putting the workforce at unnecessary and unacceptable risk.

If  employers cannot protect their workforce they should close down immediately

The Party is calling on the Health and Safety Executive to enforce public health and government guidelines by ensuring full compliance with safety measures at work and is also calling for an immediate Executive Order to be enacted by the Assembly directed against those non essential firms which continue to trade. .

Workers providing essential services which are keeping our society function at this critical time are being put at serious  risk through the lack of personal  protection equipment and social distancing measures. Other workers re being told to report for work in non  essential  services  and in dangerous and unhealthy conditions like some call centres and production lines.

Unionised workforces at least have power and leverage to effect change but many, many thousands of workers are in non-union firms and are at the mercy of employers who place the relentless pursuit of profit above health, well being and life .

Those who put their workforce at risk must be challenged  and sanctione. Those who continue to trade without justification should be closed forthwith.

Such developments, however, must take place in the context of providing effective financial support measures to avoid mass redundancies and to ensure that jobs are protected and workers paid. 

%d bloggers like this: