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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s