Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1080/30513
From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2020
Councils must use resources now for emergency response to Covid-19
The following is an edited letter sent by Southampton Socialist Party to the Labour leader of Southampton City Council. We have had a reply to say he is in the process of discussing our proposal with the council officers.
Our experience tells us that senior council officers are likely to enforce the rules in favour of the Tories and the bosses. But this crisis has shown that these so-called rules are not worth the paper they are written on.
We will keep up the pressure. Labour councils need to use all of the resources at their disposal now to save workers, not the capitalist system.
Southampton Socialist Party members and trade unionists protest against cuts (Click to enlarge)
The devastating impact of coronavirus is exposing the impact that austerity has had on all of our public services, and particularly the NHS. It also reveals that the number-one concern for Boris Johnson and the Tory government is looking after the bosses' profits as they face an economic crisis bigger even than that of 2007-08.
We need to fight for policies that put the health and livelihood of workers first. Our local councils could have a role to play in using all of the resources at their disposal to organise the response locally.
In Southampton, the Labour-run council has huge spending power, and the capacity to borrow much more. It currently plans to borrow £200 million to develop a private property portfolio and build offices.
A council-led campaign, with the support of the trade unions, must be launched for the government to back up council funding. If Southampton leads the way, this could be taken up in other areas around the country.
Southampton Council should:
- Establish an emergency fund, potentially worth hundreds of millions of pounds, using borrowing powers and existing reserves. This should be spent with the oversight of workers and their trade unions
- Demand that all employers in the city pay workers full wages when sick or self-isolating
- Launch a campaign for recruitment to the trade unions for workers to hold their employers to account, for full pay, full protective equipment, and healthy practices at work
- Demand that the city's landlords give 'rent holidays', writing off rent payments, to tenants who need it; stop collecting council rents where necessary; and ensure no evictions in the city
- Stop collecting council tax from those unable to pay due to coronavirus
- Requisition empty homes to house the homeless and those escaping domestic abuse
- Take control of private health and social care facilities in the city for the planned use of anyone who needs it
- Give financial backing to schools providing vital care for children, as well as delivering free school meals for children and others in the community that are in need
- Stop all council budget cuts, and demand full funding from the government
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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
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.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 31 March 2020:
NHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared
Schools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus
Councils must use resources now for emergency response
NHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality
Self-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!
Fully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children
Scandalous conditions in food distribution centre
Coronavirus news in brief
World War Two
All in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth
What we think
PPE, tests, full pay - for all now
Labour must resist 'Covid coalition': Workers need their own voice and party
Emergency legislation: Trade unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests
Food supply and the coronavirus crisis
Capitalism means empty shelves, food insecurity, and soaring profits - the case for a socialist alternative
Key workers should make bold demands
Essential workers deserve more
Working in Mike Ashley's empire: After lockdown we won't forget how we've been treated
Hull construction workers force bosses to shut down site over health and safety fears
Bosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland
Bus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay
Postal workers walk out over health, safety and junk mail
Working from home during the pandemic
Leicester: Nylacast worker exposes truth
Refuse collection workers strike
Fight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants
More than ever, we need accountable union leaders
Help us continue to fight for workers and socialism
Building the Socialist Party
Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis
The Socialist 31 March 2020 |
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