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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 July 2021

Trade unions must continue the fight for Covid safety

Government and management attacks and incompetence are the main cause of the spread, photo London Socialist Party

Government and management attacks and incompetence are the main cause of the spread, photo London Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

Katrine Williams, PCS trade union rep

The Tories are setting up another colossal experiment which could put wave three of the pandemic into super-exponential growth. Placing all the blame on us.

The 'learning to live with Covid' mantra just means the Tories are happy to accept more people will die and do nothing about it. This same phrase was repeated by the Welsh Labour Government health minister. The trade union movement must bring pressure on the devolved politicians to not just follow in Johnson's reckless footsteps.

Leaving the virus spread unchecked means it is more likely to mutate and become resistant to the vaccine. This is on top of the fact that a significant proportion of people are not fully vaccinated. Even those who have had both jabs can still contract Covid, spread the virus, and become ill.

Any increase in hospital admissions will put impossible pressure on exhausted NHS workers. The failing track-and-trace service must be brought into the public sector. We need to stop the Tories' plans to reduce the need to self-isolate which is the only effective way to break transmission. They are placing too much confidence in the rapid lateral flow tests that US regulators have recommended be thrown in the bin because of the danger of spurious performance claims.

One in five of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 have been affected by long Covid. In many cases this has a severe impact on people's ability to do day-to-day activities.

While the Tories are rushing to dump all the safety measures, employers still have a legal duty to protect workers from harm. They must risk assess the workplace and trade unions must ensure that employers take into account that the risks associated with Covid-19 are still severe, with life-threatening or long-term debilitating consequences from contracting the virus.

Trade union demands

Trade unions must make demands on employers to protect workers and the public by:

Where work does need to be done in the workplace unions must demand:

Unions must mobilise

Trade unions must mobilise our members to prevent any attempts to remove safety measures in workplaces. Alongside using the health and safety legislation on serious and imminent danger (Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Act), where necessary

It is also clear that the fight for safety must address the impact of austerity, which has been a major contributing factor to the high Covid-19 death rate that has swept through working-class communities.

The fight for safety needs to include wider demands for job security, decent pay, reversal of cuts to our services, affordable good quality housing and a shorter working week, with no loss of pay. As well as resisting any attempts by the Tories to make us pay for the pandemic.

Starting with the current issue of the Socialist we are entering our fortnightly summer schedule so that the editorial staff can take a well-earned break. The next issue will be published on 29 July. For updates see

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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.

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In The Socialist 14 July 2021:


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