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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader

Jaguar Land Rover, photo Graham Hogg/CC

Jaguar Land Rover, photo Graham Hogg/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Despite Covid infections and hospitalisations rising, many workers in non-essential jobs are being forced to travel into work, putting themselves and their families at risk.

Wolves Socialist Party member Nick Hart spoke to a worker and Unite union member at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull. Production has continued despite a large proportion of the workforce testing positive.

It's not lockdown is it? People aren't happy. This factory must be the biggest spreader of coronavirus in the West Midlands.

We're under constant pressure from managers to keep cars rolling off the line. To achieve this, the morning and afternoon shifts have been put on 45-hour weeks - instead of the usual 37 - through compulsory overtime. We're worried this change to shift patterns will become permanent.

The use of overtime, and workers from other sites filling gaps left by people off sick with Covid, means that you have people who are normally on different teams, and living all over the Midlands, mixing together.

On my section, the social distancing and hygiene is fairly good, though in other parts of the factory people have to work close together due to the nature of the job. In spite of these measures, people are still catching Covid - even the office-based managers.

They're so desperate to keep us coming in that we've been given letters to say that we're keyworkers, in case the police stop us while we're travelling to work. We've been given tests, but then told to go back to work before we know if the result is positive or not!

When people do have to isolate, they still receive their 'basic pay'. But this doesn't take account of the shift allowances they'd normally receive on top.

It's capitalism that's making the bosses want to keep the factory running. But honestly, no amount of money is worth me or my 80-year-old mum catching Covid.

Right now a lot of us are scared. Lockdown should mean lockdown.

The Socialist Party calls for workers to have democratic control over Covid-related and all other health and safety measures in their workplace. This must include the right to suspend non-essential work, without loss of pay, if it is not possible to work safely while Covid remains at large.

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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.

  • 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 27 January 2021:


News

Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at 9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools

Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"


What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party


Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


NHS

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic


Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC

TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Campaigns

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!


International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


Review

TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


 

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