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‘Business as usual’ is killing workers

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Issue 2699
Bus drivers are terrified of working in unsafe conditions
Bus drivers are terrified of working in unsafe conditions

Ministers say that a “small minority of people” are putting our lives at risk. That’s true—they sit in the Tory cabinet, on the boards of corporations, and are at the top of society.

Their determination to return to “business as usual” is sacrificing working class people’s lives for the profit system.

If you’re working class you are more likely to have poorer health and be in insecure work or overcrowded housing. You’re more likely to fall ill and die, especially during times of crisis.

Black and Asian people and migrants are more likely to be in lower paid jobs and face all the malign effects of racism.

All workers in non-essential industries should already have been told to stay at home on full pay. And those who are essential to the running of society should have full protection.

Instead, the warped priorities of capitalist exploitation and oppression cost lives.

In London ten public transport workers had died of coronavirus as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday. Despite demands from unions for new public health guidelines, they have had to continue working without any sort of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). London’s privately-run bus companies have disregarded people’s health and lives.

Metroline bus bosses sent a letter on 31 March making clear that those self-isolating are “not currently entitled to be paid” or “entitled to sick pay”. 

Another bus operator, Arriva, threatened disciplinary action against drivers trying to implement social distancing to save their own lives. An employee notice said, “Drivers MUST NOT restrict their customers from using the front doors or seats. Any driver seen to be doing this will be dealt with formally.”

Another Go-Ahead driver, who contracted the virus, said bosses had not given workers anything but “cheap hand sanitiser”. 

“I brought my own mask and gloves,” she said.

Two Royal Mail workers, Bola Omoyeni and Stefan Haluszczak, died in hospital after contracting coronavirus last week.

I brought my own mask and gloves

Postal workers are still told to keep working in unsafe conditions—and deliver junk mail.

More health workers died this week of coronavirus because of a lack of proper PPE. 

Doctors described “holding their breath” as they treated patients.

Capitalist production is geared towards maximising profits. This has devastating consequences in “normal times”.

It has become all the sharper with coronavirus.

Boris Johnson’s admission into an intensive care unit was used as an argument by some that “we’re all in it together”. 

But the way the system puts profits before lives should shatter any such myth.

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