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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 March 2020

Working from home during the pandemic

  (Click to enlarge)

A worker in the heritage sector

People's experience of the transition to working fulltime from home varies.

Many financial sector employers were more prepared. This was partly because their profits are better protected by a healthy workforce.

This is in stark contrast to 'non-essential' public services, such as the heritage sector. National heritage institutions only started to close their doors to the public one or two days after Boris Johnson's 16 March announcement that people should stay at home.

Nothing for staff

The heritage sector adheres to international standards to ensure there are comprehensive disaster plans for their collection items. However, this crisis has proven that many don't have any comprehensive plan for staff when their health and safety is at risk.

We were told simply to just wash our hands, and had very little access to preventative tools to stop the spread of the virus. It was obvious management were floundering.

Our employers have reiterated that they understand that people can't be as productive as they usually are in the office. However, they haven't spelt out what this means.

Many homes are not equipped to be full-time workplaces. Many people have children and other caring responsibilities to deal with on top of their work duties.

Many are working from their kitchen table, flatpack desks bought online or even the sofa. Sometimes more than one person is working from home.

Although some employers have circulated Health and Safety Executive guidelines, what happens if our homes fail these assessments?

What about your health?

Working for long periods of time without ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks or other equipment needed to create a comfortable working environment could aggravate current health issues or cause future ones.

Many people want to continue working, so it is important to ensure that you are a member of a trade union. Although unions can't meet in person, many union branches are busy working together to secure more favourable pay and working-from-home conditions. (See 'Organising in the workplace in the time of coronavirus').

The trade union movement must be campaigning for full pay for all staff. But also that we should be working a lot fewer hours.

This would offset the additional costs incurred at home - energy and other utility bills. However, most importantly, this would help offset the health and safety risk of working from home.

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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.
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 Fighting Fund.

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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


Benefits

Fight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

More than ever, we need accountable union leaders


Campaigns

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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