Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials - 1st April 2020

1st April 2020

It’s incredible how Gove - vying with Raab as Johnson’s “right-hand” man - continues to claim everything is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds!  When the number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths reached an all-time high, on Tuesday, his press conference explained that the “curve” on the graph of projected deaths was “flattening”!
    At the time of writing, however, another 563 have died - the biggest daily rise so far.  And yet the government response continues to be totally shambolic; this week adding yet more empty assertions about the procurement of tests and ventilators.  Yes, while invoking the spirit of Dunkirk and claiming that “British” industry is now going to come into its own!
    Yet testing remains a very bad joke: 10,000 tests a day were promised 2 weeks ago.  But just 8,000 are being done, while the (ridiculously inadequate!) “target” of 25,000 tests a day is now to be reached only at the end of April!
    And never mind that only 2,000 NHS workers have so far been tested!  Yes, the same NHS “heroes” Johnson clapped for 5 minutes outside Downing Street before he went down with the virus himself.  And what’s more, these workers have been left to be exposed to the virus every day, without proper protective gear!
    No wonder staff are threatening to walk out (as in Southend A&E) rather than continue to struggle under these conditions.  Or that care workers, also deprived of PPE, say they might strike.  To date 6% of all NHS workers and 25% of doctors are off work because of Covid-19, and 4 doctors (that we know of) have already died.

Brexit before breathing

As for ventilators, the government claims 8,000 are already available - but can anyone verify that?  It says 10,000 more are being produced - apparently being made by this consortium of companies (“British” companies like Ford, Siemens, GM, Thales, etc...) with... a hundred coming on stream this weekend?  Yet production, at least at the Ford-Dagenham site, is only meant to begin after mid-April!
    Of course this kind of “promise” is not surprising.  It has to be the government line, no matter how impossible.  After all, thanks to its anti-EU stance and “self-isolating” from Europe it decided not to participate in a collective procurement order (which it is still entitled to!) for ventilators and protective equipment.
    Perhaps more shocking is the fact that the government’s own pandemic exercise in 2016 (revealed by ex-minister Dr Phillip Lee), advised that a large stockpile of ventilators be acquired to prepare for a future respiratory virus epidemic.  This was never done!  Of course not!  Instead, the NHS has been cut to within an inch of its life.
    And now the population and in particular its poorest sections are paying for it, faced with an overstretched health service which is already bursting at its seams, even though the Covid-19 crisis is not even nearly at its peak.

Our nation is the whole world

Today in place of the “science” which the government claims to follow, characters like Gove have revived a campaign of poisonous nationalist finger-pointing, to divert attention from their own utter incompetence.
    So now we have “the Battle of Britain against the virus”.  As if this should or could be a national war - when this invisible pandemic is international and requires (and has had!) a collective response beyond borders.
    But where there is a Gove, there is Brexit-creep and anti-Chinese racism.  So Gove implied on the Andrew Marr programme that Britain’s lagging behind was China’s fault:   “some of the reporting from China was not clear about the scale, the nature, the infectiousness of this.”  Really?  When China provided the full genetic code of the virus as early as 11 January and labs here, were thus able to develop a test and start testing immediately!  And would have been testing everybody, had the resources been given to them (there is plenty to go around judging from the billions given to business!)!
    Such talk is both sinister and ominous.  Gove isn’t the only one.  Patel at the Home Office has just said that EU workers, many of whom are risking their lives in the NHS and other key services today, will only get a further 1-year visa to stay in Britain after Brexit.  That’s how these toxic xenophobics thank them!
    From day 1 of this crisis the government has failed to take serious and effective measures.  There are obvious social reasons for this: a system based on private profit, selfishness and greed, which has become so corrupt that it is unable to answer society’s simplest needs... like a face mask.  That says it all.