Socialist Worker

Workplace outbreaks underline continued risk posed by Covid-19

Issue No. 2718

Boris Johnson showing how safe schools are - at least when theyre empty

Boris Johnson showing how safe schools are - at least when they're empty (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


The government has not conquered coronavirus, and its failed policies are increasing the risk of a deadly second wave.

Ministers would like us to think the virus is effectively under control.

But new coronavirus infections have doubled in Birmingham within a week, with 321 new positive cases.

The city is teetering on the edge of a local lockdown after confirmed cases rose to around 30 people per 100,000.

And last Saturday Britain recorded its highest Saturday infection rate in eight weeks with 1,012 cases.

A further 1,040 infections were added to the tally on Sunday.

It’s no secret why infections are rising. The Tories’ drive to reopen the economy is leading increasing numbers of people into unsafe situations.

Workers are travelling together on public transport and spending time in offices or factories where social distancing isn’t observed.

Yet the government is still pushing for English schools to reopen fully in September—regardless of the threat this poses to workers and students.

Many parents, pupils and teachers want a return to school. But it has to be safe.

Two Scottish primary schools pupils tested positive for coronavirus this week, following a number of positive tests among secondary school students.

Processing

Three outbreaks at food processing plants over the past week show that the danger posed by Covid-19 has not gone away.

In Northampton, 299 workers at Greencore—which produces sandwiches for Marks and Spencer—tested positive for Covid-19 recently. Yet production didn’t stop.

At the 2 Sisters chicken factory in Perthshire, doors were closed after four workers tested positive.

And 72 workers at the Bakkavor desserts factory in Nottinghamshire were found to have coronavirus after the firm tested 701 members of staff.

In April, operations manager Sean Madden was secretly recorded telling staff at a Bakkavor factory in North London that they would be fired if they failed to come to work.

He claimed the vast majority of workers absent during lockdown didn’t have the virus and many “just didn’t want to come in”.

The recent outbreaks underline how workplaces can hotspots for the spread of disease.

And they also show the lengths bosses will go to in order to keep the cash rolling in.

Only a more robust testing and tracing system would reveal how widespread coronavirus really is.

But data for England shows that the outsourced NHS Test and Trace system is actually getting less effective.

From a failing contact tracing system to keeping workplaces open, those in charge are sticking to their deadly policies.

We can’t trust the Tories.


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