Coronavirus – A workers’ charter to tackle the crisis

Coronavirus reveals the capitalist system in crisis

Workers mustn’t pay the price

National Health Service

  • Emergency increase in funding for the NHS and for social care
  • Adequate protection for all front-line workers
  • NHS to take over private healthcare facilities and staff, and any other private facilities necessary for care, quarantine, and supplies. No compensation to the private fat cats
  • Emergency training of NHS staff to deal with the coronavirus crisis
  • Resources to be made available so that anyone with flu or cold-like symptoms has the right to a free coronavirus test with results available within hours, as has been the case in South Korea and some other countries
  • Increase production to meet the urgent need for more protective and medical equipment, including ventilators and virus testing. Convert production where necessary, under the democratic control of workers in those industries and in the wider workforce
  • Reverse privatisation in the NHS, remove the privateers and suspend all PFI payments
  • Nationalise the big pharmaceutical companies to guarantee research, production and supply of medicines, vaccines and treatments
  • Suspend fees for overseas NHS patients – treat all patients for free without the need to register to control the spread. Scrap prescription charges

Pay and benefits

  • No worker to pay the price for controlling the spread of the virus. Any worker who has to self-isolate or is unable to work because of childcare or transport closures, should receive full pay and not be forced to take annual leave. This should include workers in receipt of in-work benefits such as Universal Credit, who should be paid their full benefits and receive no sanction. Workers who follow health advice to be absent from work to avoid potential spread should be excluded from any attendance-management procedures
  • All workers should be entitled to full pay from day one of isolation, sickness or for care of vulnerable dependants for as long as it is needed
  • Self-employed, agency, zero-hour-contract and gig economy workers required to self-isolate to be granted emergency benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions, at full pay, for the equivalent of at least a full working week of 37.5 hours, or more if they usually work longer
  • Scrap the sanctions regime. Suspend the requirement for claimants to attend mandatory interviews and carry out job searches. Claimants should not be penalised for not being able to leave their homes and not being able to undertake labour-market activities because of lack of access to transport, internet, postal services, and so on
  • No redundancies, lay-offs with loss of pay or imposed changes in working conditions in manufacturing, logistics or service industries because of the crisis. Open the books of any company threatening redundancies or closure to inspection by the workforce and trade unions. To defend workers’ jobs and incomes, industries should be nationalised under democratic workers’ control and management with compensation only on the basis of proven need. Government funding for local authorities to help small local and community businesses – hardship funds to be democratically controlled by a committee involving workers and community groups

Public services and housing

  • Emergency funding to provide resources to protect workers, patients, students and service users in the NHS, education, transport and public services
  • Councils to coordinate a local response. Scrap existing cuts budgets. Councils to use reserves and borrowing powers to fund necessary jobs and services
  • 24 hour helpline for vulnerable and elderly people forced to self-isolate. Community and trade union control over local distribution of food, medicines and other supplies
  • Workload demands must be reduced and time made available to prioritise protecting the health, safety and welfare of staff and students/clients/patients
  • No school to be expected to remain open unless they have staffing levels and sufficient cleaning, testing and hand-washing provision to control the spread of infection. No to any removal of statutory class size limits
  • If schools close, all staff must receive full pay. Quality childcare for vulnerable families and children of essential workers must be organised under the democratic control of education and care workers, with adequate protection for all. Emergency local authority provision of meals to children normally in receipt of free school meals under community and trade union control
  • Nobody should lose their home because of coronavirus. Mortgage and rent payments should be suspended. Government funds for democratically controlled local authority hardship funds for landlords in genuine need
  • Councils to take over empty homes to house the homeless and those in inadequate housing. Hotels to be used to provide emergency accommodation
  • Funding for 24 hour helplines and emergency accommodation for victims of domestic violence
  • No action to be taken for non-payment of utilities and broadband

Trade union and workers’ action

  • Trade unions to establish an all-union health and safety committee in every workplace to agree joint actions required to guarantee safety
  • For the Trade Union Congress and the unions, the biggest voluntary national organisation with over six million members across the country, to prepare to lead national coordinated strike action to protect people should necessary health and safety measures not be taken
  • Democratic trade union oversight over any government or private sector emergency measures taken to contain the virus, such as restrictions on public assemblies or strikes and supermarket supply rationing
  • No erosion of workers’ right to organise, including the democratic functioning of trade unions and parties
  • No trust in the Tories and other pro-capitalist politicians who are responsible for the crisis in the NHS and other public services to deal with the coronavirus crisis. For a mass workers’ party, drawing together workers, young people, socialists and activists from workplaces and community, environmental, anti-racist and anti-cuts campaigns, to provide a fighting political alternative to the pro-big business parties
  • The resources are there to deal with the crisis. Introduce an immediate 50% levy on the hoarded £750 billion lying idle in the bank accounts of big business
  • The capitalist market system that prioritises profit and is based on competition cannot keep society safe. We need a democratic socialist plan of production and distribution to meet the needs of the majority in society. Take into public ownership the banks, financial institutions and the top 150 companies that dominate the British economy and run them under the democratic control and management of working-class people so that we can make the decisions about what is needed. Compensation to be paid only on the basis of proven need.
  • For international socialist cooperation

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