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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 March 2020

Coronavirus news in brief

Empty  London tube station, March 2020

Empty London tube station, March 2020   (Click to enlarge)

Lockdown cladding 'time bomb'

New tests have found that 'high-pressure laminate' (HPL) cladding is almost as deadly as Grenfell's 'aluminium composite material' (ACM) cladding in a fire. In 2017, 72 people were killed when profit-motivated cladding on Grenfell Tower acted like a wick spreading an inferno up the building.

As of September 2019, over two years later, government figures still recorded up to 24,800 homes in 324 buildings covered in Grenfell-style ACM cladding. Industry data suggests at least a further 340 tall buildings have dangerous non-ACM cladding, including combustible HPL, says Inside Housing.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says that buildings "could and should have been made safer with a comprehensive testing regime immediately after Grenfell, but the government failed to act." FBU general secretary Matt Wrack points out that "with people spending far more time at home under the lockdown, this is a ticking time bomb."

It's another failure of the big business politicians and the capitalist system, which put profit above preparation. Cladding off now! No safety - no rent!

Homeless housed in days

On 27 March the government instructed local councils to house all the homeless by the end of the week. Great - but if that was always possible, why are councils only doing it now?

Why the hell were they waiting for a pandemic and an order from the Tories to give them an excuse to end homelessness? The Local Government Association has said councils will need more funding to cover this - why didn't they demand it before?

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, rough sleepers are allotted parking spaces to sleep on to maintain social distance! Rough sleepers in various European countries are turfed out of shelters to prevent contagion, fined for being in public, or herded into packed gyms!

We say councils in Britain must reverse all funding cuts and demand the money local areas so urgently need. Seize empty homes now, and start a mass council house building programme as soon as Covid-19 passes!

Depression looms for capitalism

Economic output in the UK could plummet an unprecedented 15% in the second quarter of 2020, reckons the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Japanese bank Nomura is more optimistic - a mere 13.5% nosedive in 'gross domestic product' (GDP).

To put this in perspective, during the worst year for the Great Depression, 1932, GDP in the United States fell 12.9%. Of course, that was for a full year, not just three months, and British capitalism may recover a little by 2021.

But that's cold comfort to the millions of workers already losing pay and jobs. Returning to the US, an astounding 3.28 million workers filed unemployment claims in just one week. The third week of March 2020 shattered the previous record - 695,000 in the last week of September 1982 - by a factor of five.

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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 31 March 2020:


Coronavirus news

NHS workers speak out: austerity has left us unprepared

Schools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus

Councils must use resources now for emergency response

NHS supply chain worker: privatisation has cut equipment quantity and quality

Self-isolation class divide: decent homes for all!

Fully fund hospices to care for vulnerable children

Scandalous conditions in food distribution centre

Coronavirus news in brief


World War Two

All in this together? The 'Blitz spirit' myth


What we think

PPE, tests, full pay - for all now

Labour must resist 'Covid coalition': Workers need their own voice and party

Emergency legislation: Trade unions must be on guard against attacks on workers' interests


Food supply and the coronavirus crisis

Capitalism means empty shelves, food insecurity, and soaring profits - the case for a socialist alternative


Workplace news

Key workers should make bold demands

Essential workers deserve more

Working in Mike Ashley's empire: After lockdown we won't forget how we've been treated

Hull construction workers force bosses to shut down site over health and safety fears

Bosses concede to walkouts in Northern Ireland

Bus drivers halt sackings - now restore our pay

Postal workers walk out over health, safety and junk mail

Working from home during the pandemic

Leicester: Nylacast worker exposes truth

Refuse collection workers strike


Benefits

Fight for safety, staffing and services - Covid chaos for benefits claimants

More than ever, we need accountable union leaders


Campaigns

Help us continue to fight for workers and socialism

Building the Socialist Party


Readers' opinion

Going viral - Socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis


 

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