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24 June 2020

Coronavirus

Lifting the lockdown: workers must not pay the price

James Ivens

Who pulled society through the lockdown? The working class. Who suffered most from the lockdown? The working class. Who will pay the price as the lockdown eases? The working class?

Not if we make the bosses and billionaires pay instead!

They put those of us still at work on the front lines without paying for effective protection. NHS staff, transport workers, carers, shop workers, and many others - all are heroes; all have died in excessive numbers.

Bin workers, school workers, and more have fought back, downing tools till the job was safe. The rich had no need. They could direct their empires from country getaways while the rest of us did the work.

They robbed those of us sent home of our pay - or even our jobs outright. The Tories paid out 80% furlough subsidies to rescue their mates, the employers. But many of those employers had their hard-pressed workers make up the 20% gap. Others just dished out P45s.

Workers made all the goods and services that generated the big bosses' profits. But when pandemic and depression hit, the bosses keep the riches - and discard us like used PPE.

They hiked our private rents to an all-time high just as lockdown began. An average of 700 a month, and twice that in London.

The big landlords and mortgage lenders are protected. But tenants have unaffordable rents on crowded homes backing up.

So it's no surprise that lower-income households are twice as likely to have shouldered more debt during the lockdown. One in four of the UK's poorest have sunk further into the red since the pandemic, compared to just one in eight in the high-income bracket.

Sure, the boss class will tell us it's not all rosy. They've lost out on profits too. But these ups and downs are a game to the billionaires. They're life and death to us.

And all the while, the capitalists are trying to take advantage of the crisis. They are privatising services, suppressing wages, intensifying work, cutting jobs.

No wonder thousands of young people have queued to give the Socialists their details on the mass working-class protests against racism. They hear we stand for an alternative to the capitalist system built on inequality; one where the working class controls society democratically in the interests of the majority, not the rich - and they have heard enough.

Because none of what the capitalists are putting us through is inevitable. Society produces enough to guarantee decent jobs, homes and services for all. We just have to stop the rich from robbing us - and that means taking the economy and political power out of their hands.

Join your union to fight for safety, jobs and pay as the lockdown lifts. Join the Socialist Party to fight for socialism: a society where public ownership and democratic planning provide plenty for all.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30950