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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 February 2021

Derby Toyota plant Covid crisis

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne visits the Toyota plant in Burnaston, Photo HM Treasury/CC

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne visits the Toyota plant in Burnaston, Photo HM Treasury/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Derby Socialist Party has compiled a report on the situation at the Toyota Car Plant in Burnaston, near Derby which employs around 2,500 staff.

On the night of 3 February, there was a high number of staff off work. Workers were moved to the affected lines to staff the production area, delaying production by an hour.

At the evening briefing, staff were told targets did not matter that night, it was only about quality and safety. Yet looking over at one affected line, you could see two to three people doing one process where normally only one person would be working.

The following week, it was reported to staff that there were 17 staff off with Covid and 68 isolating.

Some cleaning times introduced during the Covid pandemic have been reduced. There was a five-minute clean down at the beginning and end of a two-hour session to stop cross-infection. That has been reduced to two minutes at the start of each session.

Lots of people, both in and out of the union, felt let down by what is going on. The union needs to give its own reports to members about the health and safety measures it is demanding, and what management is or is not implementing.

It's been reported that a member of staff had to train someone on the line while at the same time the person opposite was training someone. It appears that continuing the work meant that some social distancing had gone out the window.

While there are staggered break times to ensure staff from different production areas start and finish at different times, staff in the same shop take breaks together. Random tables and chairs had been placed at the side of the line as new workers have been taken on. But there wasn't the room in group areas so they were sat without masks on as people wearing masks walked close by.

Although some staff are scared to bring up issues, there was clearly concern and anger about the risks at the plant, and staff were raising it.

The pressure by staff has certainly had an effect.

The company has now revamped what it has been doing. Anyone going into someone else's process area, like a trainee or a team leader, now has to wear a mask and visor. It's non-negotiable. And employees must wear a mask in their own area.

Tables have been moved further away from the lockers.

There's still an issue if someone is using a tool to do a job and there's a problem like a cross-thread; a team leader will use the tool to do a repair, but the tool is not always wiped down, just put back in the gun pot, and off they go to the next repair, instead of stopping the line (which reduces car production) to do the fix and enable better social distancing.

There needs to be a return to a high standard of safety as a big fear is that staff might catch Covid either at work or bring it in and the infection will spread.

There also needs to be:

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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 17 February 2021:


News

Tory consultation on home-use abortion pills

Tory cladding money will not make us safe

Sham inquiry into 'progressive extremism' will not stop movements against capitalism

Cumbria mine: How can we fight for jobs and stop climate change?

Cryptocurrency bubble: Insanity of capitalism

News in brief


NSSN meeting

Online workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses


Scotland

SNP's independence referendum 2 'roadmap'


NHS

NHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

Boot private companies out of our NHS


Workplace safety

Covid workplace safety

Derby Toyota plant Covid crisis


Workplace News

Hackney teaching assistants strike against cruel and unnecessary job cuts

PCS: Reject the HMRC pay deal

Manchester Go North West bus drivers in all-out strike over fire and rehire dispute

London bus drivers set to strike over pay and conditions

Scaffolders' strike continues


Socialist Students

Strike back for free education

Socialist Students conference - Sunday 28 February


Campaigns

Socialist Party Black and Asian caucus

Remembering Mohamud Hassan - continuing the fight against police brutality

How you can amplify the Socialist's voice - Help us build subscriptions to the Socialist

Swarming the London Mayor's question time

Southern new members meeting - a vivid illustration of the appetite for socialist ideas

Doing all we can to fund the anti-cuts stand at the ballot box


Readers' Opinion

Film Review: Dear Comrades!

The Socialist Inbox


 

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