Socialist Worker

Massive surge in virus cases shows Tory failures

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2721

Tory Dominic Raab claimed workplaces are Covid-secure

Tory Dominic Raab claimed workplaces are "Covid-secure" (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Britain recorded an ­enormous rise in coronavirus cases on Sunday. Some 2,988 people tested positive, compared to 1,813 on Saturday—a rise of over 50 percent.

It was the highest daily figure since May. 

Professor Christina Pagel said, “There is no way you can look at these figures and feel confident that things are going in the right direction.” And professor Gabriel Scally said the government have “lost ­control of the virus”.

Yet the Tories continue to order people back into unsafe workplaces, schools and public transport.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that people working from home is “damaging to the economy”.

“The economy needs to have people back at work,” he said. “We need to get Britain back up and ­running, the economy motoring on all cylinders.”

Raab claimed that employers are creating “Covid-secure” workplaces. Continuing outbreaks in workplaces tell a different story.

Put people before profit to protect us from coronavirus
Put people before profit to protect us from coronavirus
  Read More

Jaguar Land Rover ­confirmed four positive tests among workers at its Solihull plant last week. It ­follows ­outbreaks at food ­manufacturing sites and ­garment factories.

Janet Newsham from the Hazards Campaign earlier this month said, “For weeks we have been recording case clusters from workers. The numbers involved clearly indicate they have become infected in workplaces.”

She said the outbreaks were due to workplaces failing to put safety measures in place and a lack of safe travel for workers. 

Many ordinary people rightly do not trust the Tories or the bosses to keep them safe. A survey by Cardiff and Southampton universities found that 90 percent of respondents wanted to keep working from home “in some capacity”.

Return 

And a YouGov poll last week found that over two thirds of people did not think firms should be encouraging staff working at home to return to work.

Transport for London reported a 15 percent rise in Tube passengers on Monday compared to the previous Tuesday, and a 39 percent increase in bus passengers. But numbers remain much lower than for the same period last year.

Private train firm figures show that there were three ­million fewer passengers travelling last week compared to the same time last year.

Yet cases are still rising sharply. Public Health England added more areas to its virus “watch list” last week, meaning restrictions could be imposed. They include Leeds, Middlesbrough and South Tyneside.

Several areas of the country remain under local lockdown. Yet as cases rise, the Tories are rationing tests (see page 6).

They claim a new laboratory that will double swab-testing capacity will be operating by the end of October. Their slow response shows the utter contempt they have for our health.

The Tories’ push back to work poses a deadly threat to ­working class people. Unions have to be pushed to resist it.


Doctors say government is ignoring workplace evidence   

A group of doctors has said workplaces are the frontline in the battle against Covid-19. A report from Doctors in Unite shows the role of airborne spread in factory outbreaks.

It says outbreaks have been caused by “airborne spread of the virus within the same enclosed indoor space of the factory”.

Doctors reveal systematic failure to deal with Covid-19 in workplaces
Doctors reveal systematic failure to deal with Covid-19 in workplaces
  Read More

Jonathan Fluxman, co-author of the report, told Socialist Worker that bosses and the Tories are putting people at risk. 

At the Northampton Greencore factory where 300 people were infected, masks were optional. And health secretary Matt Hancock has claimed masks don’t work in offices.

Jonathan said this is “a gross ignorance from the minister of health. They are bending the truth and we know they lie.”

He added that the government is “not looking at evidence they don’t like”.

“If they accept the reality of airborne spread and the need for ventilation and re-engineering of the economy, then it means the current guidance is not fit for purpose,” he said.


Resist civil service work return 

The Tories and civil service bosses have renewed a drive to force government workers back into their offices by the end of September.

Cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said he wanted 80 percent of workers back at their desks at least once a week by the end of September.

It means that workers in major government workplaces such as HMRC tax offices could be forced into offices—just as infections appear to be heading for a second peak.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of  the PCS union, said, “As a last resort, if you have no other option and people’s health and safety 

is at risk, of course we would be prepared to consider industrial action.”

Candy Udwin, a member of the PCS national executive committee, said workers should be prepared to resist if their managers begin attempts to reopen workplaces. 

“Every branch and every group of the union needs to meet now,” she told Socialist Worker.

“We need to be ready on the ground to resist.”


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