England, Wales and Scotland section of International Socialist Alternative

Quarantine capitalism – fight for a socialist alternative

Coronavirus – #BorisOut

The Coronavirus pandemic is revealing the rotten nature of the capitalist system and its drive for profit over the health of the world’s population. In Britain, Boris Johnson has shown disdain for workers’ lives and only taken any action under extraordinary pressure. Socialist Alternative calls for mass trade union-led struggle for the following:

1) Take seriously the health of ordinary people!

  • No faith in the Tory government to decide what measures are necessary or for how long – for democratic trade union and community committees to decide on recommendations
  • Widespread provision of free, rapid testing for Coronavirus. Government resources to use this data to fully and properly monitor the spread of the disease
  • Closure of all non-essential workplaces, with no job losses and wages guaranteed – including for workers on precarious or zero-hour contracts. Employers to support work from home arrangements wherever possible
  • Close the schools with guaranteed job security and pay for all education workers. For emergency state-funded childcare for those who need to work.
  • A coordinated, international strategy, to fight the virus and develop a vaccine to be free and accessible to everyone – don’t leave it to the corporations and big pharma!

2) Emergency measures to aid the NHS

  • State-controlled production of ventilators, respiratory equipment, protective clothing and other resources needed by health workers
  • A programme of massive increase in hospital bed provision, including requisition of private hospital beds and secondment of medical workers in the private sector to the NHS – no compensation for private health bosses
  • Fast track training of workers with basic care and health skills, with trade union oversight
  • All privatised cleaning and ancillary services to be brought back into the public sector
  • Local councils to conduct emergency audits of social care capacity. Rapid expansion of residential and home help services to relieve pressure on acute hospitals. Central government to foot the bill
  • An end to all cuts, closures and privatisations in the NHS. Cancel all PFI debt!
  • Nationalise the pharmaceutical companies under democratic workers’ control and management

3) Protect our health workers

  • Proper protection of all health workers’ health – including mental health, – safety and working conditions. Democratic workers’ committees in each hospital to ensure health and safety of all workers and patients
  • No professional liability for healthcare workers stretched to breaking point in the Covid effort
  • Escalated rates of pay for overtime

4) Don’t let workers pay for a crisis of capitalism’s making

  • Full pay for all during self-isolation and workplace closure
  • Write off rent and mortgage arrears caused by inability to work, no intimidation or evictions for arrears. Suspend utility bills for any affected worker.
  • Refund all fees for cancelled university lectures. Abolish student debt and invest in free education
  • No sickness absence monitoring to be undertaken during this crisis
  • No to job losses. Open the books on firms pleading poverty.
  • Nationalisation of big companies threatening layoffs and government grants for small businesses under threat to compensate for lost income

5) End the rule of market chaos

  • Price controls on hand sanitisers and medicine
  • End bulk buying – retail unions to set a cap on sales per customer of items under shortage. Special arrangements to be made for elderly and vulnerable people
  • Democratic workers’ control of supplies of food and pharmaceuticals, including hand sanitisers and wipes, to prevent shortages
  • Trade union-run solidarity networks to ensure vulnerable individuals and those self isolating have access to food, medicine, etc
  • A democratic, socialist world where the means of production are collectively owned and planned to meet the needs of all, rather than the profits of the tiny few

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