THE UNITED Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, has issued a damning attack on the Tory government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic describing it as ‘utterly hypocritical’ after years of Tory-imposed austerity attacks and savage cuts to the public sector. Alston made this damning assessment in an interview with the Guardian saying: ‘My thoughts of course hark back to the sense of how utterly hypocritical it is now to abandon “austerity” with such alacrity, after all the harm and misery caused to individuals and the fatal weakening of the community’s capacity to cope and respond over the past 10 years’: here.
Coronavirus: British government failed to stockpile crucial PPE: here.
A third of all coronavirus deaths in England and Wales are now happening in care homes, figures show. Office for National Statistics data showed there were 2,000 coronavirus care home deaths in the week ending 17 April, double the previous week: here.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 28 April 2020:
After the pandemic, health and safety can no longer be dirty word
“REMEMBER the dead, fight like hell for the living.” The solemn pledge made each Workers’ Memorial Day by trade unionists is especially poignant amid a global pandemic.
Workers are dying. Workers on the front lines of the National Health Service, in our care homes, staffing our shops or keeping public transport running, delivering goods and post or looking after the children of other key workers in our schools.
Workers have been exposed to catching the Covid-19 virus because non-essential workplaces have not all been closed. And workers whose work is essential have been put in harm’s way because managers have not adapted workplaces properly to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
On a still greater scale, workers’ lives have been risked — and lost — because they have not been provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE), even when their jobs involve treating infected people in our hospitals.
TUC leader Frances O’Grady is right to describe this failure as “grotesque” and right to lay it at the door of ministers.
The government ignored warnings from the World Health Organisation and from China, where the coronavirus first struck, and failed to use precious weeks to prepare.
It was late in establishing a lockdown and then failed to take appropriate measures to address continuing problems such as overcrowding on public transport.
It has repeatedly sought to blame the public and even health workers for the lethal consequences of its own decisions.
Before coronavirus, the government had years in which it recognised and even tested scenarios for dealing with a global pandemic.
Some claim authorities were unprepared because they had game-played outbreaks of influenza, which does not spread in the same way as coronavirus.
Yet ministers did not bother to act on the central findings of the 2016 pandemic drill — that the NHS would be rapidly overwhelmed and that stocks of PPE would be rapidly exhausted. Had they done so, fewer workers would have died this year.
Such demands are not mere point-scoring but would help end a culture of impunity for the elite that allows them to play fast and loose with our safety.
Backed up by a corporate media whose devotion to private profit easily eclipses its concern for human life, successive governments have been able to turn a basic and vital demand — that people are not put at unnecessary risk while doing their jobs — into a joke, “health and safety gone mad.”
In 2012 David Cameron complained that health and safety legislation was “an albatross around the neck of British businesses” and vowed to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”.
Two years later he was being lauded for his “bonfire of the building regulations”, a phrase that sticks in the throat following the Grenfell Tower disaster — though as the Fire Brigades Union has meticulously documented, decades of deregulation by both Tory and Labour governments set the scene for that tragedy.
Like Grenfell, the failure to supply workers with essential PPE was preventable, and must not be depoliticised.
When we observe a minute’s silence today for the workers who have perished as a result, we should commit in their memory to ensure people are not forced to risk their lives to do their jobs in future.
That entails sweeping changes in the world of work, to redress the balance of power between the worker and the boss.
It requires Britain’s repressive trade union legislation to be overturned, to ensure trade unions have access to workplaces and the ability to negotiate appropriate working conditions for each sector through collective bargaining.
Ministers are not going to offer us such reforms. Only huge industrial and political pressure from our movement will carry them forward.
By Jacqui Berry in Britain, Tuesday, April 28, 2020:
While health workers are applauded as heroes, criminal failings are leaving them to die
Across the NHS and the heavily privatised social care system, key workers now face a hand-to-mouth existence on PPE, writes JACQUI BERRY
COVID-19 has exposed what socialists and trade unionists have long understood — it is working-class people who are indispensable to society.
Workers who are now applauded as essential heroes were just a few short months ago dismissed, demeaned and demonised by the Tory government.
The starvation diet imposed on the NHS left the system woefully under-resourced.
THE BMA (British Medical Association) said yesterday that ‘frustration grows’ over the government’s failure to guarantee that the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives during the fight against Covid-19 will be financially supported in these tragic circumstances. The BMA is demanding urgent answers from Westminster to its calls for all healthcare workers to receive full death in service benefits available under the NHS pension scheme, regardless of their length of service or whether they are a current member of the NHS Pension Scheme or not: here.
By Mary Bousted in Britain, 28 April 2020:
Normal public events won’t be possible for International Workers’ Memorial Day this year, but marking the day has never been more important, says joint NEU leader MARY BOUSTED
APRIL 28 is a big day in the trade-union calendar. International Workers’ Memorial Day is when workers around the world unite to remember those killed at, or by, work and to organise in their memory.
Under normal circumstances I would perhaps be reflecting about many of the global incidents that you have read about in the pages of the Morning Star over the past year — of bad employers, dangerous working practices and persecuted trade unionists.
But while we do continue to reflect on those cases, these are far from normal circumstances.
This 25 April 2020 video from Britain says about itself:
Workers Memorial Day: How to legally shut down your workplace
Worried about having to continue to work on non-essential work during the coronavirus crisis? The law is on your side. Watch this 90-second video to find out how you can legally shut down your workplace – and join the Coronavirus Global Day of Action on April 28, International Workers Memorial Day.
Remember the dead – fight for the living.
By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 26 April 2020:
Ex-miners in Scotland asked to sign ‘do not resuscitate’ forms if they contract coronavirus
EX-MINERS in Scotland are being asked to sign “do not resuscitate” forms if they contract the coronavirus, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) told the Star today.
NUM general secretary Chris Kitchen, a former miner at Kellingley colliery in Yorkshire, said: “We have had information from Scotland that ex-miners were being contacted by the NHS and asked if they got it, would they not want to be resuscitated, and asked if they were happy to sign a ‘do not resuscitate’ note.
“You work all your life down the pit, fight for your country, then are told: ‘Do not bother us if you need help’.”
By Peter Lazenby in Britain, 27 April 2020:
Care-home operator has waited for 10 days for testing kits to arrive
DESPITE two of its residents dying with coronavirus, a care-home operator has been waiting 10 days for testing kits to arrive, its healthcare director said today.
Vida Healthcare provides specialist support for up to 194 residents living with dementia in its two care homes in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Director Bernadette Mossman said that kits promised by Public Health England to test residents showing symptoms never arrived. She said that one employee had to travel 50 miles to Manchester to get tested on Sunday.
By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:
Monday, April 27, 2020
Government ‘running around like headless chickens’ in battle against Covid-19
A FORMER chief scientific adviser condemned the government today for “running around like a bunch of headless chickens” in their attempts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Sir David King … said that from the outset Prime Minister Boris Johnson had lost a lot of time, despite receiving plenty of detail from China about Covid-19, in preparing a taskforce.
Such a body should have helped oversee the domestic manufacture of protective wear and ventilators that have been in short supply, as well as developing tests and extending testing capability, he said.
Application for delay in Assange extradition hearing as COVID-19 sweeps through UK prisons. By Alice Summers, 27 April 2020. The vindictive suspension of the COVID-19 prisoner release programme demonstrates the criminal disregard of the British ruling class for the lives of prisoners.