Covid-19

Videos: Socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis

Watch videos giving socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis below. Many are subtitled. Click in the top right of the video, for the contents of the playlist, and to watch other ones. See Workers' Liberty's channel for other playlists and videos.

To beat the pandemic, beat poverty: good sick pay for all!

There is growing noise in the labour movement and more widely around the issue of sick pay. We urgently need a bigger campaign on this issue. Despite right-wing agitation about people flouting lockdown regulations, the evidence suggests something like 90% general compliance (British Medical Journal). But much lower numbers of those infected or in contact with the infected are self-isolating fully: more like 20%. Unlike hand-washing and social distancing, self-isolation often requires material resources and support, particularly sufficient space and an income. Data from the first lockdown...

Starmer wraps himself in the flag

Keir Starmer’s 5 January address to the nation had a surreal quality. Hunched before a Union Jack, he fretfully listed groups of people who would be inconvenienced by the new lockdown and its “difficulties”, before rallying to tell us that the “strength of the British people” will see everything right, and in particular that Brits will get vaccinated before any foreigners do. It was as if a distressed and confused performer had been forced by his employer to go on TV to do Captain Mainwaring impressions. Politically, Starmer gave no indication that he was the leader of the political wing of...

University rent strikes escalate

Groups of students at around fifty unis are now withholding rent for halls of residence, or about to start doing so. The advice to most students not to return to campus until mid-February at earliest has given the rent strike wave fresh impetus. What’s the point of paying for accommodation you can’t use for at least six weeks and possibly longer? The movement is beginning to consolidate organisation, with meetings being held, reps elected and a national network. The grievances, anxieties and consequently demands for undergraduates go beyond paying for accommodation that isn’t occupied. They...

Speedy vaccines: money, political will and technologies

One of the few positives that emerged from the bin fire of 2020 was the speed at which not one, but three, effective and safe vaccines were developed, trialled and approved in the UK. They offer hope for a more optimistic 2022 and a route out of the pandemic. However, as with other projects involving big pharma and national governments, many people are skeptical about the speed at which vaccines have become available. In non-plague times, vaccine development is a long process. It is multi-staged and complex, involving scientific research, preclinical trials, three phases of clinical trials...

Workers' control and school safety

From 5 January all secondary and primary schools moved to being physically open only to vulnerable children and the children of key workers. Learning for other students is being offered online. There continue to be struggles over the specifics of this. Firstly, the government has tried to widen the definition of children who can come in to these schools, to the point where head teachers and school leaders’ unions have sounded the alarm. On Saturday 9 January the government was forced to clarify that key workers should send their children only if they cannot work from home. The numbers in...

Vaccine nationalism in Israel

After a deal with Pfizer, Israel is leading the world in Covid-19 vaccinations, with a goal of vaccinating everyone over 16 by the end of March. It has already vaccinated about 20% of its population. It is not providing vaccines to the millions of Palestinians living under its rule in the Occupied Territories, let alone to Gaza. Israel may have completed its vaccination programme by the time Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank start getting vaccinated. Israel has done badly in the pandemic, with lockdowns lifted too fast and inadequate social policies. It is now in the middle of its third...

"Everyone is a bit frazzled" (Diary of a Tube worker)

“And now it is in Nigeria, and it’s bad. It is the big parties spreading it. People are still going to them, they don’t know what it’s like here. I need to call my sister so she knows what happens when it is out of control. But you know it wasn’t Nigerians there that got coronavirus, it was all of us going back home and visiting. More Nollywood actresses have got it now, it is the parties I am telling you!” C is at once both the most Covid-alarmist worker on the station and also the greatest believer in the conspiracy theories associated with it. No one wipes down as many surfaces as C as they...

Covid-safety on Tube

Latest figures show that 57 transport workers in London have died from Covid-19. 42 were bus workers, highly exposed by their employers’ unforgivable foot-dragging over moving to middle-door boarding and additional distancing measures. Eight of the deaths are of Tube/rail workers, with three from Transport for London (TfL) offices, and three from outsourced employers. These were 57 workmates, friends, family members. Each leaves people devastated by their loss. On the Tube, a full train service is now being run, despite ridership being at only 18% of pre-pandemic levels. Only those workers who...

Withdraw "conditionality"! (John Moloney's column)

The vast majority of directly-employed civil servants continue to work from home, but despite the worsening situation with the pandemic, bosses in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) still want to keep job centres open for face-to-face meetings with benefit claimants. We support limited opening for vulnerable claimants who need additional support, but as a general rule we want contact to be remote. Forcing claimants into job centres puts both the claimants themselves and DWP workers at risk. We’re also fighting for the withdrawal of “conditionality”, under which claimants are sanctioned...

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