Coronavirus disaster, European news

This 13 May 2020 video says about itself:

Construction workers and safety experts condemn Boris Johnson for social murder

On the very day the Government urges all construction workers to return to work, the Office of National Statistics releases figure showing that keeping sites open has led to three times as many deaths of construction workers as healthcare professionals. Hundreds more will die if this appalling policy is allowed to continue – so Shut The Sites are calling for collective organisation to stop the carnage.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 15 May 2020:

Editorial: Schools are now a battleground between safety and profit

THE battle to stop the government’s reckless drive to reopen schools with scant regard for child or staff safety is led by educators and their unions.

Nonetheless, it is a battle whose outcome could hardly be of greater importance for the public. Reopening schools does not “merely” affect the millions who attend or work in them.

Once schools are operating normally all those who come into contact with those millions of people, the families, carers and dependants, are affected too.

Unless the government can demonstrate it is ready and able to enforce serious safeguards — such as those imposed when China began reopening schools, which involved smaller class sizes, classes using separate entrances, regular deep cleans and disinfection of everything used, physical distancing within schools, shorter school days and, above all, mandatory testing of pupils and staff before they were cleared to come in, each school risks becoming a “super-spreader” enabling the Covid-19 virus to spread like wildfire through communities.

It is not a partial or gradual easing of lockdown: it drives a coach and horses through it.

For the government as well as the public, reopening schools holds a significance that reaches way beyond the education sector.

Ministers have long promoted education policies that widen the gap between the children of richer and poorer families, such as academisation and baseline testing.

They have ignored repeated warnings from education unions on the terrible impact of austerity on children’s ability to learn, with teachers sounding the alarm over children too tired, too hungry or too ill to concentrate.

Now, these same ministers pose as champions of the disadvantaged, declaring that schools must reopen quickly so that the poorest do not fall too far behind richer pupils who are better placed to learn at home.

That won’t wash. Tory ministers want schools reopened because parents providing childcare are more difficult to dragoon back into the workplace themselves.

An Establishment propaganda barrage has been directed at teachers, accusing them of betraying these pupils’ interests through a presumably selfish desire to avoid being infected — with a virus that could kill them, members of their families or members of their pupils’ families.

As NASUWT general secretary Patrick Roach warns, this is a “situation where the wrong decision will result in people becoming seriously ill and dying.”

Blairite figures in the Labour Party such as warmongering loudmouth Ian Austin savage trade unions in the press while former education secretary David — now Lord — Blunkett deploys literal peer pressure in the hope of bullying teachers into acting against their consciences.

This reached a crescendo in today’s Daily Mail with an appalling and grossly misleading assault on teachers’ unions. As Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner says, “it’s not ‘militant’ to demand safety measures are in place for children and staff alike.”

As for the familiar slur that union headbangers are imposing their will on a workforce eager to comply with government wishes, it is surely demolished by National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney’s observation that his union has recruited 7,500 new members in three days and received 100,000 responses to a members’ survey in 48 hours.

As Courtney makes clear, teachers do want to get back to work — when it is safe. The five tests that the union has set out are not just supported by teachers but by the British Medical Association.

The government must be made to back down. But this will only happen if it is faced with the reality that it is unable to reopen schools.

The lead taken by local authorities such as Liverpool City Council, which has confirmed that it will not take the risk of reopening schools in line with the government’s timetable, provides a model for other authorities and their following suit should be a core demand we make through our unions, trades councils and local campaigns. This is a winnable fight.

See also here.

Overwhelming opposition to reopening of UK schools amid worsening COVID-19 pandemic. By Tania Kent and Harvey Thompson, 16 May 2020. The closure of schools is a key measure recommended by medical experts internationally to reduce the infection and death rate from the coronavirus.

UK government ties Transport for London bailout to “back to work” drive. By Jean Shaoul, 16 May 2020. TfL, which runs the London Underground, bus and rail services, faced bankruptcy, threatening the Johnson government’s efforts to restore corporate profits.

NURSING staff in the UK are still under pressure to work without PPE and lack promised gowns. Over a third of nursing staff (34%) in the UK say they are still under pressure to care for patients with possible or confirmed Covid-19 without adequate protective equipment. The findings are revealed in the latest UK-wide member survey on PPE by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN): here.

One dead and more than 600 Irish meat processing workers infected with coronavirus. By Robert Stevens, 16 May 2020. There are 23,956 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland and 1,518 deaths—one of the highest death ratios in the world. In Northern Ireland, 4,317 people have tested positive, with 469 deaths

Coronavirus crisis exposes devastating conditions in the German meat processing industry. By Marianne Arens, 16 May 2020. German slaughterhouses have become coronavirus hotspots, with hundreds of workers, most of them sub-contracted from Eastern Europe, infected with the virus.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

German parcel delivery company DPD has closed a parcel centre in the municipality of Hückelhoven (North Rhine-Westphalia) after an outbreak of the coronavirus, the broadcaster WDR reports.

42 of the 167 employees tested were found to be infected with the virus. In total, about 400 employees work at the sorting centre. The results of the other tests are expected on Monday.

All employees are quarantined to prevent the virus from spreading further. The German health service has launched a contact investigation.

Herd immunity policy in Turkey risks thousands of new deaths. By Ulaş Ateşci, 16 May 2020. The government is launching a “normalization” policy forcing employees back to work over opposition from medical experts

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