Socialist Worker

Tory adviser says there is nothing to do but work during coronavirus crisis

Issue No. 2700

A Tory adviser thinks passport workers can return to work - because they are no more at risk at work than at home

A Tory adviser thinks passport workers can return to work - because they are 'no more at risk' at work than at home (Pic: RubyGoes/Flickr)


Workers can’t “hide” from the coronavirus forever, a government adviser has said. Rupert Shute is the deputy scientific adviser at the Home Office.

He made the comments during an online discussion with the Passport Office, where workers are being made to return to work.

According to Shute, ­workers shouldn’t be angry about going back to work as they are likely to catch the virus anyway.

“You are no more at risk at the workplace as you would be in your home or at the supermarket,” Shute said. “We are working on the assessment that 80 percent of us, if we haven’t already, will get the virus.

“We cannot hide away from it forever.”

The Tories have said people should work from home where possible to minimise the spread of Covid-19. But it turns out that, if it’s better for business for us to go out to work, that’s what they will pressure us to do.


The Asos clothing firm is throwing workers on the dole despite them putting ­themselves at risk by continuing to work.

Bosses have told some 70 workers—50 drivers and 20 admin staff—that their jobs will end on 30 April. “We’re being chucked on the scrap heap, facing the abyss, mid-pandemic,” said one driver.

Another said, “You feel like things can’t get any worse—but they just did. Everything is crashing down.

“I live with vulnerable people and a young child. Every day I go to work I put myself and them at risk. Half the time it’s just to deliver something somebody doesn’t really need—giving our lives for a £5.99 bikini.

“We have no masks and it’s hard to socially distance. But I have to work because we need the money.”

He added that it was “unbelievable” his reward for doing this was losing his job.

Asos is now switching its delivery contract from Menzies to DPD and Hermes.

This means workers will switch from being employees to being self-employed.

The firm claims that Tupe laws, which are supposed to protect workers’ conditions in such situations, don’t apply.

The news follows a strike at Asos’s Barnsley warehouse last month, where more than 98 percent of workers said they felt unsafe in a survey.


G4S hires vulnerable man to work in coronavirus hospital

Outsourcer G4S has hired a 70 year old man to work in a coronavirus field hospital.

He will be working at the temporary NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow.

It defended the decision, saying it was “up to employees” if they wanted to continue working.


One rule for us and another for minister

Tory housing secretary Robert Jenrick travelled 150 miles from London to visit his Grade I listed £1.1 million second home mansion in Herefordshire last week.

The trip came days after Jenrick urged people to “stay at home”. Then again he didn’t say which home.

Jenrick also has a £2.5 million townhouse in London and rents a £2,000 a month property in his constituency in Nottinghamshire—which we pay for.

He obviously has the added confusion of so many homes that the vast majority of us don’t suffer from.

But Jenrick also paid a visit to his parents in Shropshire.

So maybe he just likes telling us to follow the rules while he does what he likes.


Hypocrite MP’s own goal

Tory MP Julian Knight, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport committee of MPs, is outraged at footballers.

He called for players to agree to wage cuts, decrying football’s “moral vacuum”.

Knight is also the author of a 2004 book Wills, Probate and Inheritance Tax for Dummies, which advises people on how to avoid paying taxes.

Advice for hiding money from the “prowling tax collector” includes “fleeing the country” to avoid inheritance tax.


Tax breaks for the rich...

Tesco has grabbed a £585 million tax break from the government as part of a business rate holiday during the coronavirus crisis.

Helpfully, this made it easier for the firm to pay £900 million in dividends to investors.

Tesco boss Dave Lewis defended the payouts saying, “We have a strong balance sheet and we do not need surplus cash.”


...and handouts for the Masons

Another potential beneficiary of Tory generosity is the Masonic Charitable Foundation, the Freemasons’ national charity. It will get to dip into a £750 million pot to keep charities going during the coronavirus crisis.

Foundation boss David Innes said that many charities had seen “donations plunge right at the time their services are most needed”.

Apparently if you are vulnerable, you can call on your local friendly Freemason for support, such as doing shopping or collecting medication.

They have so much cash—“an initial fund of over £1 million”—that they don’t anticipate having to draw on the government fund.


Police tell man he can’t be in his own garden

Police in Rotherham, south Yorkshire, told a man he wasn’t allowed in his own garden due to coronavirus.

Daniel Connell was playing with his children in the Eastwood area of the town. He videoed an officer telling him he had to “stay indoors because of Covid-19”.

“The virus does not stop on your front garden,” the officer continued. “You cannot come on your front garden.” South Yorkshire Police later apologised.

Elsewhere, the Northamptonshire police chief Nick Adderley

has threatened to have officers searching shopping trolleys for “non-essential” items. Adderley also said his force were just “days away” from bringing in roadblocks.

Home secretary Priti Patel was forced to clarify that such measures are “not appropriate”.


The cops’ Police Federation has complained that the provision of personal protective equipment for officers is “mixed”.

Maybe if officers didn’t harass people so much and kept their social distance they would be safer.


Saved by Jesus?

A Bavarian town has been saved from coronavirus by Jesus, so far.

In 1633 at the height of the bubonic plague, Oberammergau residents vowed that, if they were spared, they would perform a passion play every ten years.

But worryingly the 42nd edition of the play, scheduled to be performed in May this year, has been postponed.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.