The UK government has sent documents to employers’ groups and trade unions selling its plans to exit the COVID-19 lockdown.
In the Tory government “back to work” strategy that will endanger the lives of millions there is not a single policy that legally enforces businesses to protect their workforce. Everything is voluntary, leaving employers a free-hand.
There is not a single reference to the nightmare scenario of large numbers of people travelling to work via mass public transport while trying to maintain social distancing.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has actually stated that workplace social distancing is ENTIRELY VOLUNTARY and that where distancing of two metres is deemed impossible “You could be closer than two metres but not for long”. Now, how long is a piece of string?
No mention is made of essential controls such as mass testing and contact tracing (explicit WHO requirements), nor clear guidance on the provision of PPE in workplaces.
The proposals are absurd, given that the UK has overtaken Italy for the highest death rate from COVID-19 in Europe.
One can frankly expect such machinations from a government made up of finance sharks, career populists and behind the scenes controllers, such as the louche, far-right “social engineer” Dominic Cummings. But what of the institutions and political leaders of the people, the establishment “left”?
“We desperately need to get the economy going and nobody is keener than GMB to get people back to work…”. John Phillips, acting General Secretary, GMB union.
On BBC Breakfast, “We are not setting up a rival camp here and that is why we need a national consensus on what happens next.” Kier Starmer, Labour leader.
Starmer’s appeals for national consensus are cosmetic, given that the trade unions entered into collaborative talks with the Tory government and employers in March, instead of supporting opposition by workers themselves, e.g. Royal Mail workers, over the failure to provide them with PPE, and in fact any basic safety measures,
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady supported the government’s £350 billion bailout for the corporations. She sits on the Bank of England’s court of directors; she had even praised Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s “real leadership”.
The CWU (Communication Workers Union) attacked the grassroots call for a national strike over the appalling lack of protections for Royal Mail workers, but instead offered its workers up “as an additional emergency service” i.e. as sacrificial victims, without even demanding the most basic PPE for them.
Morphing into the government’s deliberate strategy of mythologising the “war on Covid-19” while actually exposing people to it, (a Dominic Cummings meme) TUC Gen. Secretary O’Grady then published an open letter in the Times proposing “a big, generous offer to government: bring us into the room, give us an equal voice, listen to our ideas and make sure working people are not left behind. In return we will roll up our sleeves and get stuck into the job of rebuilding our country so that it works for everyone. Just as we did after the Second World War.” This kind of sentimentalised guff only aids and abets the government’s face-saving over its criminal non-handling of the pandemic and exposing workers to mortal danger in the workplace.
The TUC has published its cynical balancing of the lives and health of workers against the agenda of big business in a recent document which explicitly states that “It is invidious to argue about the relative priority of public health or economic growth: both are important to the wellbeing of working people.” Where is the call to divert the vast profits of Britain’s weapons industry, for example, into saving people’s lives in this pandemic, which is assuming catastrophic proportions? These people are supposed to be socialists!
Len McCluskey of UNITE, Corbyn supporter and strident campaigner for Lexit, the Stalinist version of Brexit, has had no qualms working with the government, the very people who were the architects of the de facto continuation of the immoral social-darwinist strategy of “herd immunity”. He claims this is giving his members a “voice at the table”.
Make no mistake, these so-called stalwarts of the establishment left are not representing the urgent needs of millions of ordinary people to survive, but rather cooperating in a criminal drive for a return to work to ultimately save the life-style of the super rich.
Philafrenzy, CC BY-SA 4.0