Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials - 14 October 2020

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
14 October 2020

Johnson’s latest 3-tier anti-Covid policy to “whack” localised “moles”, in places like Liverpool, hasn’t gone down well.

   His own scientific advisors already expressed their misgivings during Monday’s press conferences. And within hours of his public statement, it was leaked that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, SAGE, favoured a so-called “circuit-breaker”! In other words, a national lock-down for 2-3 weeks, as the only way to prevent this second wave of infection from getting even worse.

    These hand-picked advisors have never before criticised the government’s approach so openly. So, armed with evidence of this dramatic shift, Labour’s Keir Starmer, for the very first time, actually dared to come out in opposition. He accuses the government of having “lost control of the virus”. As if it was ever in control!

    Public Health England still cannot test, track, trace and isolate the virus properly. So the data that everything is based on - like the crucial “R” rate of infection - is underestimated. Which obviously means that these “local” measures are a joke. Anyway, on a small island like Britain, to prevent “local” outbreaks becoming regional and national (if they are not national already!), “local” tier 3 policy would have to be enforced with road blocks and police cordons - hardly an option this government can, or would, choose.

The virus going viral...

The growing refusal of restrictions among sections of the public and the partying seen on TV - especially on leaving the pub at 10pm - is no surprise. Johnson constantly apologises for limiting “freedoms” and the seriousness of the situation has been consciously played down from day one. Wasn’t Johnson himself guilty of refusing to acknowledge the danger of the virus - until he caught it?

    There is no mystery about viral transmission. When Professor Jonathan Van-Tam (still deputy medical officer, for now!) was asked about the 10pm curfew, he explained that the 3 “C”s - as observed in Japan - must not coincide: closed spaces, crowds and close contact. He added length of time in proximity, and loud voices. This might describe a pub at 10pm, but it could also describe buses and train carriages, workplaces and schools! So it’s no mystery either, that the virus has managed to spread to households - it travels in stuffy, closed buses! Of course, all through this pandemic, public transport was never stopped. Not even when bus drivers were dying one after another from Covid-19. And construction sites carried on, workplaces opened early and then in August, schools followed, with universities opening in September. Any fool would have known this would cause a spike.

    Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty produced the government’s “good excuse”: it was trying to“steer a course between two harms”. Under this crooked system, the choice is explained as one which is between people’s jobs and people’s lives.

    But in fact, it’s really a choice between the health of the working class and the wealth of the capitalist class. And caught right in between, are many tiny businesses, run by one or two people who thus get pushed (complaining bitterly!) into the ranks of those affected, along with the rest of us.

...While Johnson hugs the rich

Even if Johnson claims he is engaged in a “war” against the virus, and has “put his arms around”(!!) the workers and the economy to protect them, the reality proves what a lie that is.

    A new study just published in “Nature Medicine” which looks at extra deaths caused by the pandemic, across 21 “industrialised” countries, shows an overall increase of 18%. But England and Wales had an excess of 28% - the highest of all! And now we are told that 1.5m are “officially” unemployed - bad, even though it’s another underestimation!

    The government has already made its choice when it comes to “harms”. It decided that it will protect the “viable” capitalists at the expense of everyone else. But it’s not exactly a vote-winning strategy to tell the population that it’s tough, but the “big” economy comes first and so “small” people will have to carry on losing out - while the rest of us will just have to carry on dying of the virus.

    What else could be done? Well, the government could, at the very least, pay everyone a decent wage to tide over the sick, the unemployed and the under-employed, until vaccines/effective treatments are found. But taking from the rich and giving to the poor is not in its DNA. It will need to be forced into it. Which is where the working class would have to come in - organised and ready to replace this broken system entirely, with one which is fit for purpose. It will take a concerted fight. But on our side, there’s no choice!