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As the Virus Recedes the Economic Disaster Begins to Unfold

As the Virus Recedes the Economic Disaster Begins to Unfold

Unity Leader 13th June 2020

By Mel Corry

In the last number of days, we have seen the numbers of people dying from Covid-19 falling as well as new hospital admissions reducing. The emergency measures taken to prevent the overwhelming of the NHS thankfully were not needed.

At the outset we were told by the Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann that the ‘best worst-case scenario’ could result in 3,000 deaths, it stands at this time less than 800 people, every one a tragedy. It has emerged that he also had a best-case scenario of 250 but chose not to make that public as it might have affected public adherence to the lockdown rules.

The question we have now is, how many people will die from not having the treatment for longstanding conditions because all treatment that wasn’t Covid related stopped? The same considerations are now being made in relation to reviving the economy.

Many thousands of workers were furloughed at the time of lockdown as all non-essential work ground to a halt. There was no problem in finding the money to cover the cost of these measures and to provide the NHS with everything that was required to keep as many people alive as possible.

At this time many workers were surprised to find out that they were essential. A few short weeks ago we saw levels of spontaneous action taken by workers to demand measures to keep themselves safe. We saw outbreaks of infection in food production facilities and outrage expressed by Unions on behalf of their members or indeed potential new members.

As circumstances change, we have been confronted with a slew of redundancy announcements from large companies, many that chose not to take the option of furlough. These announcements are opportunistic in many circumstances.

The public sector has used this time to experiment with levels of home working which will remain a feature for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting when people have accidents at home or develop physical or mental conditions whilst working at home if the employer accepts responsibility and the duty of care to their employees.

We can expect a rise in cases whereby workers are asked to return to work after furlough only to be faced with consultations on redundancy. I’ve had two such enquiries this week.

Some workers will return to find that the employer has cut their wages and made significant changes to their contracts of employment, unilaterally. In reality, many workers who are currently furloughed are unemployed, they just haven’t been informed officially.

As all this is played out the system is in crisis, again. We are looking into a depression the likes we have never seen. We shouldn’t be surprised by this; it is a recurring feature of Capitalism.

In every previous economic calamity, the system has found ways to recover and save itself, usually at the expense of workers. This time it is running out of options. All the economic levers of the past will not get capitalism out of this crisis. The environment cannot sustain unlimited growth and working people will not accept continued austerity.

We’ve had enough, we should not be expected to pay for a crisis that we had no part in creating The future for workers looks bleak if we place ourselves at the mercy of a system that keeps failing us. We must work for the growth of a powerful Trade Union and labour movement that is willing and able to defend and lead us in the creation of a world fit for the ‘essential workers’, who bore the brunt of the fight, to live in.

A world where the young children of today are not the slaves of the future.

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Originally published in Unity, weekly paper of the Communist Party of Ireland

The online edition of Unity can be viewed here.

To subscribe to the hard copy please email: unitycpireland@gmail.com

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