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From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020

Coronavirus news in brief


Coronavirus   (Click to enlarge)

Panic profiteers

Amazon reports it is trying to remove listings for face masks and hand sanitiser marked up by up to 2,000%. Snake-oil merchants and spivs are trying to capitalise on the global panic. If Amazon struggles to control the profiteers, perhaps nationalisation is in order - of Amazon, and the medical and hygiene supply firms.

NHS staff don't want to return

The government's plan to call up retired NHS professionals during the coronavirus crisis has not had a good response. Of 120 retirees who spoke to Guardian, 71 said they wouldn't go back. Working conditions in the NHS are horrific - and older people are in the high-risk category for severe symptoms anyway.

"After the way I was treated I would rather shove a rusty six-inch nail up my backside than return to my old job," said one former nurse. Another has "nightmares 12 years on about the extraordinary working conditions."

A third "left nursing in disgust at the treatment of nursing and ancillary staff by a toxic and bullying management culture." And GPs reported "being repeatedly shafted by successive administrations" and "burnout. I would not go back under any circumstances."

There's no quick fix - but a promise of immediate full funding to mitigate those conditions might sweeten the pill for some. Permanent full funding and reversal of privatisation - better still.

Police plan reduced cover

Emergency policing plans include that "we could stop homicide investigations, stop everything that is not time-critical. Everything goes on the protection of life and property," one officer told the Guardian.

But who decides what local policing priorities are? Democratic community control of police policy and hiring would help prevent abuses if resources become too scarce.

Homeless can't quarantine

How are rough sleepers to self-isolate? The government is already under fire for suppressing the true scale of the homelessness crisis. Whitehall reported 4,677 rough sleepers last year, but Freedom of Information requests to local councils counted almost 25,000.

Councils should requisition empty homes - 216,000 in England alone - to help the homeless prevent the spread. Then refuse to give them back to the landlords and developers to help resolve the housing crisis!

Prescription rip-off

In the midst of a potential epidemic, prescription charges in the "free at the point of use" NHS are due to rise again. You can now expect to pay 9.15 a pop.

With wages already hit by sickness and closures, how are workers to maintain their health and help control the spread? Scrap prescription charges! And nationalise big pharma to cover the costs.

Ghost flights

Airlines are running "ghost" flights without passengers while the outbreak hits demand. Why? The capitalist European Union's competition laws dictate that airlines which don't use at least 80% of their flight slots can lose them to rival firms.

This rule - and all the EU's pro-market, anti-worker regulations - have to go. Struggling airlines should be nationalised as part of a democratic, socialist plan for cheap and environmentally sustainable transport.

Fight for transparency

The government hastily withdrew a proposal to reduce infection count updates from daily to weekly. And parliament announced there were no plans to close as of 9 March. But this may change as the crisis develops. So would such a closure be designed to prevent infection, perhaps convening electronically - or to totally suspend even the feeble and distorted oversight the Commons exercises over the government?

Nationalise big pharma

A pharmacy worker in Dumbarton rushed out to sign our petition saying she'd been inundated with customers asking to use a hand sanitiser. But as it's a private Lloyd's pharmacy, the bosses would not provide one for public use. She agreed with our demand for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry.

Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 11 March 2020:


Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now

Coronavirus infects the world economy

Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn

Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition

Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits

For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets

Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it

Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic

South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief


Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services

News in brief

Workplace news

Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot

Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay

Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse

Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining

Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management

Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"

Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network

East London uni and bin worker strikes

US election

How can Trump be ousted from the White House?

Campaigns and party news

Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises

Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts

Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?

Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests

Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson

Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story

Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'

Student occupation in support of striking workers

Selling the Socialist

Socialist Party executive committee positions

International news

Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis

Women's and trans rights

Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement

Readers' opinion

Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom

Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work

Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

The Socialist Inbox


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