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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 March 2020

Workers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Cleaners and other support staff are essential to managing the coronavirus crisis, photo by Mohsen Atayi/CC

Cleaners and other support staff are essential to managing the coronavirus crisis, photo by Mohsen Atayi/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Cleaning, portering and catering staff at Lewisham Hospital, south London - where coronavirus cases have been treated - have walked out after private contractor ISS failed to pay the wages of the hospital workers.

Their union the GMB says: "Infected patients are now being admitted into the hospital, but the cleaners have downed tools because they haven't been paid.

"Furious workers stormed off the job during a row with the outsourcing company. Now ISS risks leaving wards uncleaned and meals not being served if they can't settle the low-paid workers' wages."

The Socialist reported recently (see 'Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay') that staff at Homerton Hospital, east London, had compelled ISS to agree to pay workers their usual pay if they are forced to self-isolate to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This victory is part of an ongoing campaign to get permanent occupational sick pay.

This shows ISS can be pushed back and workers can win.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 18 March 2020:


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Councils must break austerity rules

Action needed to protect shop workers and access to essential goods

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

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