At the time of writing, tens of thousands of people in the UK have already unnecessarily lost their lives to the Covid pandemic and now with a second wave upon us, not only are we experiencing a huge increase in cases, but an avalanche of job losses, pay cuts, stripping of services and attacks on democracy under the Tory government. This crisis is far from over and with potentially the worst recession in UK history about to hit, the second wave is looking more like a Tsunami. It’s time for a fightback!
With very little official opposition, a group of Labour MPs, trade unionists, campaigners, socialists, workers and residents have joined forces as People Before Profit to call for a “fightback across workplaces and communities to demand ordinary people won’t pay for the crisis” with their lives or livelihoods.
Across the country, local groups have been coming together to support one another throughout the pandemic and consider solutions locally and nationally. On the 29th September the group launched a series of demands as part of the People Before Profit: Emergency Programme for Jobs, Services and Safety and over the past few weeks meetings have been held locally to share these demands and begin campaigning for them.
“We’re on the edge of a major recession and a massive increase of unemployment so we need an emergency programme to protect people and start resisting what they’re imposing upon us.”
John McDonnell, Labour MP
#1 - Extend the furlough scheme - defend jobs
The government’s Furlough scheme must be kept in place for at least the next 12 months – no worker should be left behind. We will support any group of workers that strikes or occupies their workplace to defend jobs.
“We’ve seen the consequences of people being faced with the decision of being able to isolate or forced to go into work due to the inability to be able to live...Nobody should be faced with that choice.”
Ian Hodson, National President of Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union
#2 - Guarantee safe workplaces
The government and employers are pressing to drive ever more people back to work despite the dangers of a second wave and the failure to put a credible test and trace system in place. We support any group of workers that refuse to work in unsafe workplaces.
“We will continue to challenge bad employers skating around the edges of health and safety scrutiny and putting the lives of workers on the line.”
Janet Newsham, Hazards (workplace safety campaign)
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#3 - Tax the wealthy - don’t make the workers pay for the crisis
We need a massive transfer of resources from the rich to protect jobs, services and living standards. We reject any argument that pay freezes will save jobs – we need to fight on every front.
“In 2008 the government committed 500 billion pounds to bail out the banks… The thousand wealthiest people in Britain have a combined wealth of 743 billion pounds… Those that have the money should pay to put right the challenges we face.”
Mark Serwotka, PCS Union General Secretary
# 4 - Public ownership of services and end outsourcing
The outsourcing of services to private firms must be reversed. No more two tier workforces.
#5 - An immediate massive programme of green investment
“Re-purpose” industries, end dependency on fossil fuels and to provide a million climate jobs. We need massive investment in council housing and in public transport.
“The Climate crisis has carried on unabated whilst the Covid crisis has ravaged. They have the same roots. Both crises are rooted in a system which prioritised profit over our eco systems, our nature, our environment and the health of people on this planet.”
Suzanne Jeffery, Chair Campaign Against Climate Change
#6 - A welfare system that provides real social security and dignity
Universal Credit and the Bedroom Tax must both be scrapped and benefit sanctions halted. Benefit payments should be massively increased and the moratorium on housing evictions must be maintained.
[if !supportLists]● [endif]John McDonnell - Labour Party MP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Sarah Woolley - Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union general secretary
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Ian Hodson - Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union national president
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Jane Loftus - Communication Workers Union vice president
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Fran Heathcoate - Public and Commercial Services Union president
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Claudia Webbe - Labour Party MP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Richard Burgon - Labour Party MP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Ian Byrne - Labour Party MP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Grace Blakeley - author, economist and activist
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Neil Findlay - Scottish Labour MSP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Bell Ribeiro-Addy - Labour Party MP
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Gordon Rowntree - PCS Left Unity national secretary
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Robin McAlpine - Common Weal director
[if !supportLists]● [endif]Carlo Morelli - Scotland University and College Union president
Initial signatories include Labour MPs, trade unionists and activists, many of whom spoke at the 29th September launch of the emergency programme. If you’d like to join the fight back with them, you can join up to support the programme on the People Before Profit website and search for your local group online.
The emergency programme is a programme for equality and for fundamental change. And as Mark Serwotka said in his closing remarks during the emergency programme launch.
“No struggle is too small to take notice of and no struggle is too big for us to be frightened of. If we organise together we can win a far better future and if we don’t the consequences will be devastating.”