Earlier today the leader of the influential Unite trade union urged the government to reassure working people that their incomes will be guaranteed if they are laid off from work because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey called on the government to act by this week’s end to announce a comprehensive incomes support package to reassure millions of worried workers that this disease, which poses huge risks to public health, will not punish them economically too.
For the working-class and most particularly for the working-poor this is a life or death issue. This is because capitalists always place the needs of their own bank balances before the needs of the employees who generate all their profits. Take the shocking example of Wilko’s a huge and highly profitable company that has been trying to remove sick pay entitlement from their workers for the past few months. As GMB the union have stated:
“Under the cruel plans there would be no company sick pay after the first occasion of sickness and anyone who has been with the company for less than a year is entitled to no sick pay at all from Wilko.”
Industrial action against Wilko will likely happen in the next few weeks given the contempt that Wilko’s bosses are showing for their hard-working employees. And on this front, Wilko workers should take inspiration for the recent victory that cleaners obtained in London.
Indeed, earlier this week the rail workers union, RMT, celebrated an important win for privatised tube cleaners who are now going to get full sick pay after a lengthy union campaign. General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The union has been demanding that all privatised staff on the transport network get full sick pay in light of the Coronavirus outbreak and the news that tube cleaners working for ABM are to get just that is a welcome breakthrough others must now follow.
“Transport workers in all grades are being exposed to high levels of social contact across the board and the idea that any of these essential staff should be financially penalised if they are forced to self-isolate remains a scandal. They cannot opt to work from home and they come into contact with a damn site more people than you encounter on a visit to the pub. Transport bosses and the Government must recognise that fact.
“RMT wants all these services brought in house but the very least that should happen in the interim is that these key staff are fully protected both financially and in the workplace at this time.”
Let’s remember that until this victory for cleaners the boss of ABM received just under $6.5 million in wages last year. The stark inequality between such gross levels of corporate pay and ABM’s despicable treatment of their workforce once again demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt why capitalism can never work for ordinary people.
More than ever before the world is in crisis because the super-rich have refused to meet the needs of ordinary people, and so now, more than ever before, we need to alter this intolerable situation by fighting for a socialist alternative where the future of society is placed firmly under the democratic control of the global working-class!