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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

No trust in Tories to keep us safe

For democratic workers' control of Covid safety

Photo: Paul Mattsson

Photo: Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, Secretary Unite Nottinghamshire health branch (personal capacity)

The self-isolation period after a positive Covid test has been reduced from seven days to five, with negative lateral flow tests on days five and six. Other Covid restrictions, including face coverings indoors and work from home guidance, are likely to be scrapped on or before 26 January.

Media coverage has highlighted Omicron causing milder illness in vaccinated individuals than during previous Covid waves. Fewer patients are in Intensive Care Units and fewer are dying.

But the Tories cannot be relied on to make decisions based on science; rather their decisions are motivated by profit. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the reduction in the isolation period aims to "maximise activity in the economy and education" - getting workers back to work and keeping schools open, so parents don't need time off to look after their children.


Javid said of Boris Johnson: "He made the call around having a further lockdown in the face of that Omicron variant. He made the right call and meant we have been able to have the most open and the most vaxxed economy in Europe."

Tory MPs are united on the need for an 'open economy' - open for exploitation and profit-making. Fewer people are becoming desperately ill, so far, than in earlier waves. But because Omicron is so much more infectious, many more people get exposed to the virus, become unwell and need time off work.

The Office of National Statistics estimated 3% of workers were on sickness absence because of Covid in the last week of December. NHS, education, care and other critical services' sickness absence is more than double the normal for this time of year. In the second week of January, over 40,000 NHS staff were off work each day because of Covid symptoms or self-isolation.

There are harrowing descriptions of patients waiting hours for ambulances, sat in A&E or lying on trolleys waiting to see the one doctor on duty. Deaths and permanent disabilities are resulting from insufficient staff to provide basic care. Health workers face exhaustion and longer-term burnout, forcing many out of their professions.

12 months ago, the grim milestone of 100,000 UK Covid deaths was passed. On 26 January 2021, Boris Johnson said: "We will commemorate the small acts of kindness, the spirit of volunteering and the daily sacrifice of millions who placed their lives on hold time and again as we fought each new wave of the virus, buying time for our brilliant scientists to come to our aid."

What a stomach-churning hypocrite!

12 months later, even Tory MPs can't pretend he's anything else - as are they for having supported him.

As Omicron spread rapidly before Christmas, the cabinet couldn't agree on public health measures. Reluctantly, the government brought in extra measures in England from 14 December, but had to rely on Labour votes to get them through as 99 Tory MPs voted against.

Tory splits

As the Johnson government hangs by a thread, scientific advice is considered not just alongside concerns about 'keeping the economy open', but Johnson's concerns of keeping his own MPs on side.

The pandemic has shown that Johnson and the Tories cannot be trusted to make decisions to keep us safe, motivated as they are by looking after the profits of the big business bosses they represent. Instead, decisions about what Covid safety measures are required, and when they should be amended or changed, must be made democratically by the working class and trade unions.

Trade unions must fight for:

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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 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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 19 January 2022:

What we think

Tories on the ropes


Want to fight austerity?

No trust in Tories to keep us safe

Tories hand cash to private health profiteers

Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis

Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay

News in brief

International news

Murder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

Northern Ireland: Workers fight threatened closure of women's hostel

US: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

Eyewitness account of workers' uprising in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Public services

Mutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party

Marxist classics

Why are things the way they are?

Rob Windsor

Rob Windsor - remembering a tireless fighter for socialism


Theatre: Yes Yes UCS

Workplace news

Sheffield Just Eat couriers speak about strike

S Yorks Stagecoach strike results in "huge pay win"

Scunthorpe scaffs resume indefinite strike action

Coventry bin strike continues

Bus driver Tracey Scholes reinstated at Go North West

Royal Mail: Unofficial walkouts precede bigger battle to come on pay and workload

Newham college strike solid against bully privatisers

Somers Forge workers continue pay strike

Workplace news in brief


NUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

Demonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill

Waltham Forest: Campaign unites families facing eviction

Newham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

Birmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

Southampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

Oliver Campbell - 31 years fighting for justice

Bournemouth - angry people not represented by capitalist parties

Pauline Wall memorial meeting


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