Socialist Worker

Day of action called for no return to unsafe workplaces

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2703

May Day protest outside North Middlesex hospital

May Day protest outside North Middlesex hospital


Trade unionists and campaigners are planning a day of action on Thursday this week to demand “no return to unsafe workplaces”. 

It comes as the Tory government will decide whether to extend or lift the lockdown. 

The day of action has been called by the People Before Profit: Health Worker Covid Activists group. It is backed by the Shut the Sites group and a number of coronavirus action committees, made up of local trade unions, campaigns and activists.

A statement from the group calls for “no return to work until it is safe” and “that those not at work have their livelihoods fully protected”. It says, “On 7 May, the government is legally bound to consider extending or lifting the lockdown.

“In reality, they are already encouraging more and more businesses to fully or partially reopen.

“We believe this is being driven by the needs of profit not safety. A return to work in non-essential production and services can only take place safely once the virus is fully under control and with a vast expansion of testing and community tracing facilities.”

They have also raised demands for proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health, care and other workers.

Cavalcades

Groups are considering a ranger of socially-distanced actions, including cavalcades to hospitals and protests against possible moves to reopen primary schools.

The plans follow a day of action on International Workers’ Memorial Day on Tuesday of last week. The TUC union federation had called for a minute’s silence for workers who have died of coronavirus. 

In some workplaces after the minute’s silence activists turned it into a protest against the Tories and bosses.

In Haringey, north London, trade unionists and activists took part in a cavalcade to the local hospital on the day. They followed up with a 30-strong cavalcade on May Day, International Workers’ Day, on Friday of last week.

Action  on Workers’ Memorial Day
Action on Workers’ Memorial Day
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Draped in banners and signs, people drove around the area and chanted slogans through a megaphone. The cavalcade finished up at North Middlesex University Hospital, where it was greeted by union reps from inside. 

In a socially distanced rally, Oktay Sahbaz from the Turkish and Kurdish organisation Day-Mer delivered a message of solidarity to health workers and slammed Tory austerity. “We are once again underlining our support for health workers,” he said. 

“We know you are working with insufficient PPE, day and night, to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus. We know that you are not on pay that you deserve." 

The night before the day of action People Before Profit: Health Worker Covid Activists has organised an online rally. Speakers are set to include NEU education union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney, Labour MP John McDonnell and health worker Karen Reissmann.

There is a battle coming over a return to work—activists have to build action now. 

For details of the rally go here, and for the day of action go here

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