Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1101/31335
The Socialist 16 September 2020 |
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'Covid marshalls' must be accountable to communities
PPE, photo freerangestock.com (Click to enlarge)
Josh Asker, Southampton Socialist Party
The Tory government has announced that it will be introducing 'Covid marshalls' to try to enforce new restrictions. But typically for Johnson and his cronies, this is all without funding or any clear instructions.
After watching those on the front line work throughout the peak of the virus with inadequate PPE. After being told to get back to the office using rammed trains and buses. After watching government advisors themselves flout lockdown restrictions. Is it any wonder that the government is finding it hard to get people to follow guidance?
The enforcement of social distancing and wearing of face coverings is a real issue facing workers, particularly in the retail and service sectors. Workers are stuck between a rock and a hard place, chastised for asking customers to wear a mask and likewise for leaving them be. This should not be the responsibility of these workers, who are just striving to make their workplace as safe as possible.
Covid marshalls seem to be the government's answer to this problem. It is suggested that this role should be controlled and carried out by local authorities.
They will be expected to do this with no extra funding and with many councils facing financial crises already. It is likely that marshalls will be existing staff or volunteers, raising the question of whether adequate training and support will be provided.
Ultimately these marshalls have no legal powers, but it is still important to deal with how they will be made accountable. At the service of the government they could be used, for example, to harass and try to prevent socially distanced protests and campaigns.
That's why it's important that roles like these are made democratically accountable to communities in which they work and the wider working class, and that the marshalls themselves are organised in a trade union.