Political

Safety mustn’t become a luxury for the better off

The lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis has illustrated starkly how dependent we all are on people doing low-paid jobs.

It’s brought a wider recognition of the importance of the manual tasks involved in delivering things to our front door, from warehouse logistics through to making deliveries.

Jobs that were called non-essential by the government when previously proposing immigration changes have been highlighted as being very much essential.

One other feature of those jobs is how much harder, if not impossible, they are to do from home. The risk as the economy slowly starts returning to normal is that we see another social division growing to add to the many which already exist: those who can afford to (continue to) work from home get to live more safely than those who have to work in regular proximity to strangers.

Staying safe from coronavirus must not become the privilege of the better off. 

Rather, we need to ensure not only a decent financial safety net for all, but also much improved safety of workplaces and workers. That will helps us avoid repeating the pattern from previous pandemics of inequality widening.

We are rightly proud of how the NHS provides health services for all. Let us not undermine it by providing safety from coronavirus for only some.

6 responses to “Safety mustn’t become a luxury for the better off”

  1. Safety of work places is what Boris should have addressed first before suggesting anyone goes back to work and this includes schools; teachers are on the front line too. I way must be found especially to give education to those who will need it over the so-called summer vacation, so that they, their teachers and their relatives are safe too.

  2. (1) When you say “Let us now undermine” I think you mean “Let us not undermine” – this needs rectifying quickly !

    (2) It might be useful to add the obvious comment that there are implications for us all in immigration (including NHS working and fruit and veg picking) terms. It’s worth highlighting the latter particularly, since there’s nothing that concentrates the mind quite like unavailability of the next meal – there are asparagus and lettuces going to rot in fields right now because UK workers don’t want tough but well paid temporary jobs.

    (3) On deliveries to the front door, can I strongly recommend Ken Loach’s recent film “Sorry We Missed You”. A review of this is on its way. We should all be boycotting Amazon. Even without that, this film has changed my life.

    • I don’t need to watch a film to know we should all be boycotting Amazon. I’ve tried very hard to cancel my account with them after they signed me up to Prime and took money without my agreement. However I found it so difficult to do so I have just removed all means of payment. My main reason (among many) is that they are able to work move profits to low tax regimes in a way that locally based suppliers cannot. I have been delighted to find out how many UK companies still have real people answering the telephone and taking you orders So much better than doing online.

  3. And another nasty wheeze is the sneaky distinction between “employees” and “workers”. Regrettably it manifests itself in all the sectors of local government (as well as more generally) and is a dickens of a job to call out and to be owned. Be aware of unintended consequences of (in some places) securing proper wage levels resulting in an unscrupled and less regulated resort to “contracting” – pay, conditions and h&s.

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