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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 March 2020

Essential workers deserve more

  (Click to enlarge)

Workers are receiving some very contradictory messages about their wage levels and the importance of their jobs during the coronavirus crisis. On the one hand, warehouse and food distribution workers, staff in supermarkets, cleaners, those providing care, and others are being told they are key workers - they are keeping society fed, keeping it running, and protecting the most vulnerable.

On the other hand, they are being made to live off poverty wages. How undervalued and underappreciated these workers are is clearer now than ever before.

Yet, the Institute for Fiscal Studies is now suggesting that the planned increase to the national minimum wage due in April should be postponed. It has even raised that the minimum wage should be cut to save jobs!

Whether or not the government goes ahead with the planned increase, it is clear that workers' anger is growing. They are fed up with being told they are not important enough to have decent wages even though they can see the vital role they are playing in society - especially now.

In some places this new found confidence is breaking though. We've heard of staff starting petitions for higher wages in unorganised workplaces and taking the first steps to improve their pay and working conditions.

The minimum wage increase should go ahead. But low-paid workers need, and deserve, much more than 8.72 an hour. The trade unions should be demanding an immediate rise to at least 12 (15 in London) as a step toward a real living wage of 15 an hour. The age exceptions to the national living wage should also be scrapped - you don't get a discount on your shopping and bills for being under 25, so why should you be paid less?

Angry and fed up key workers will increasingly be forced to take action and fight for the pay rises they need and deserve.

Helen Pattison, London Socialist Party

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 30 March 2020:

Coronavirus news

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

Workplace news

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

Readers' opinion

Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis


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