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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

News in brief

NHS staff protested to demand better PPE at the start of the pandemic, Chesterfield, photo Elaine Evans

NHS staff protested to demand better PPE at the start of the pandemic, Chesterfield, photo Elaine Evans   (Click to enlarge)

Shoddy PPE and illegal profiteering cronyism

£299 million of PPE brought by the government during the pandemic has gone out of date. The early days of the pandemic were marked by health and care workers' struggles for face masks and other PPE. Now, two years on, the government is suggesting those workers could be asked to use the out-of-date products.

£17.3 billion of PPE contracts were awarded between March and July 2020 to private companies. Many of those were awarded using the government's 'VIP lane' - now deemed illegal by a High Court judge. The system allowed politicians to refer firms to be given contracts. A referral made a supplier ten times more likely to get a deal, according to the National Audit Office.

How much profit has been made from this aspect of the pandemic alone? To supply high-quality PPE for all during the pandemic, the Socialist Party raised the need for the nationalisation of the PPE manufacturing and supply industries. By doing this, production and distribution could be planned democratically to meet need rather than make profits.

Our energy bill pain, their decade of dividends

9% of households spend one pound in every ten of their income on energy bills. This is set to rise to 27% in April when the planned energy price cap is lifted. The average bill is set to jump from £1,277 to £2,000 a year.

Energy company SSE has advised its customers to do star jumps. E-on has sent 30,000 customers a pair of socks to replace the heating they can no longer afford.

Meanwhile, oil and gas companies have handed shareholders almost £200 billion in the last ten years, according to think tank Common Wealth. This figure dwarfs the £20 billion being passed on to households in Britain, driving increasing numbers into debt and poverty.

Common Wealth goes on to call for a 'windfall tax' on these companies. That's a start, but why not nationalise these companies under democratic workers' control, to prevent future market failures for which the working class are asked to pay?

Capitalist inequality kills

99% of humanity are worse off because of Covid-19.

The wealth of the ten richest people has doubled since the pandemic began.

One person dies every four seconds as a consequence of inequality.

These are some of the findings of the Oxfam report 'Inequality Kills: The unparalleled action needed to combat unprecedented inequality in the wake of Covid-19'.

The report concludes with the need for "systemic solutions" for a more equal world, "ensuring that the market, the private sector, and globalisation do not produce greater inequality in the first place".

The fact is, capitalism, an economic system based on private ownership of wealth and the pursuit of profit, has inequality hardwired into its DNA.

The report's suggestion to "tax rich people" is a start, but not enough. What's needed is the nationalisation of the top companies and banks, to be run under democratic workers' control and management as part of a socialist plan, coordinated internationally.

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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 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


News

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

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


Campaigns

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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Related links:

Inequality:

triangleOxfam 'Inequality Kills' report

triangleUkraine: Workers' unity needed

triangleMurder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

triangleGlobal inequality grows

triangleVaccine inequality - the ugly face of capitalism

News:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleNews in brief

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleCovid news in brief

Wealth:

triangleTake the wealth off the super-rich to fund: NHS and social care, pay and benefit rises

triangleMillionaires multiply during pandemic

triangleHow to deal with the tax-dodging mega-rich? Nationalise!

Workers:

triangleFor workers' unity against war in Ukraine

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

Energy:

triangleCatastrophic energy bill hike - a crisis made by capitalism

Profit:

triangleTesco slashes jobs and customer service

Nationalisation:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Socialist nationalisation - what it is and why we need it

Covid:

triangleJohnson scraps Covid safety measures

Capitalism:

triangleBritain's economic growth figures mask fragile false recovery

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