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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 November 2020

Covid law used against striking workers - for workers' control of safety measures

Optare strikers in Yorkshire October 2020, photo Iain Dalton

Optare strikers in Yorkshire October 2020, photo Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

On the very first day of the new national lockdown, police issued dispersal orders to a picket line of striking workers, on the grounds of breaching the new rules.

Unite members at Optare in Sherburn-in-Elmet have been social distancing and wearing masks, in contrast to contractors the company employs, who have been travelling into work in cars together without masks. Management has been harassing strikers and attempting to 'catch them out', despite strikers reporting numerous lapses around Covid measures by management.

Home Secretary Priti Patel's deliberate decision to end the exemption from Covid rules for protests is an aid to the bosses in attacking their workers.

How much additional risk is there standing together on a picket line from workers who would be working together indoors? Optare workers are striking two days a week and working the other three.

The Tories' measures to tackle Covid are not politically neutral. They have acted in the interests of their class, the capitalists, to hand out lucrative contracts for PPE, testing, and 'track and trace' to Serco, G4S and others.

Ordinary working-class people's lives will be put first if measures to tackle the virus are taken out of the hands of big business and their political representatives, and put into the hands of democratically elected and accountable representatives of workers and their organisations - as the Socialist Party has advocated throughout.

The Labour Party under Starmer showed again how reliable a prop it aims to be for the capitalist class by voting with the government on this. Workers need a party that will fight to put their needs first - not the profiteers - including defending their democratic rights to strike, picket and protest.

The Socialist Party condemns the use of the police and Covid regulations against the Optare strikers. We continue to encourage trade unionists and union branches to send messages of support to [email protected] and donate to the strike fund via bank transfer:

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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.
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In The Socialist 11 November 2020:


News

Capitalists vs working class - not in it together

Tory U-turn: Free school meals

Tory U-turn: Furlough extended - not enough to save jobs

Covid and poverty rising - Welsh lockdown ends with little progress

Covid law used against striking workers - for workers' control of safety measures

Schools need union action for safety


US election

After the polarised elections - what way forward?

Trump out! But mass workers' struggle needed

Trump is out - our readers react


Spycops

Spycops inquiry : why the capitalist state feared and continues to fear socialism


Workplace news

Rolls-Royce: Lancashire workers' strike shows the way to fight aerospace cuts and job losses

RMT union AGM votes to defend union democracy

Sainsbury's and Argos: Closures, cuts and soaring sales

Fight the witch-hunt of Corbyn and his supporters


Campaigns

Donate to the Socialism 2020 appeal now!

Solidarity with Manchester students - fight for democratic control of campus safety

Southampton trade unionists demand: "We won't pay for Covid"

Labour movement conference to defend Corbyn and discuss new party

The struggle for a new mass workers' party

Selling the Socialist


Review and readers' opinion

Trotsky's ideas live on in the CWI

The Socialist Inbox

Readers of the Socialist react to effects of lockdown


 

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