Covid-19

Videos: Socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis

Watch videos giving socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis below. Many are subtitled. Click in the top right of the video, for the contents of the playlist, and to watch other ones. See Workers' Liberty's channel for other playlists and videos.

Test and trace workers don't get isolation pay

Speaking to the Coronavirus Lessons Learnt meeting in parliament on 10 November, the head of Test and Trace, Dido Harding, told MPs: “All the evidence shows that people are not complying with isolation not because they don’t want to but because they find it very difficult. “The need to keep earning and to be able to feed your family is a fundamental element of it which is why I think the financial support payment is a very good thing.” The financial support that she refers to is the £500 isolation support payment which was introduced in September. But millions of workers, including thousands...

Virus: getting through the months

The news is good on vaccines for Covid-19. But, as every expert says, it will be several months at least before vaccination shrinks the need for covid-distancing and quarantining. Longer, if the vaccines block symptoms but not the virus itself or transmission. (We don’t yet know). As of 24 November, infection rates have been edging down in Europe since 8 November. They look like plateauing worldwide, after rapid growth since mid-October, but are rising sharply in the USA. The lockdowns in Belgium and France have reduced rates there sharply, and Spain and Italy (without lockdowns) have also...

Fighting Covid: the police or workers' control?

A new campaign was launched on 14 November, called ZeroCovid. It takes up full isolation pay and public-sector Test and Trace, two of the demands raised by campaigns like Safe and Equal, and it is backed by a number of left-wingers, notably in and around the SWP. Yet its chief demand is a “full” and indefinite lockdown of everything which is not “absolutely essential” until we get to zero or “near-zero” infections. And its second demand is for international travel to be “reduced to an absolute minimum”. As we shall see, that means closing borders. The model for ZeroCovid “working” is New...

Student rent strikes spread

On 23 November, students at Cambridge University were the latest group to declare they will refuse to pay their rent for their university accommodation until certain demands are met. Cambridge rent strikers join groups at Manchester (who are also occupying a university building) and at Bristol currently not paying rent; other student groups have either pledged to strike in January or are planning to strike if demands are not met (York, Edinburgh, Goldsmiths). Cambridge are demanding: a 30% rent reduction; all students allowed to study remotely should they wish to; no Covid-19 job losses; no...

Defend the right to protest

The civil rights group Liberty has reported that in the legislation for the new lockdown (5 November to 2 December), the Tories have quietly deleted the exception previously made, in the ban on public gatherings, for political protests done with due care. On 6 November, some 200 people were arrested on an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. The Netherlands, for example, explicitly makes political protests the one high-profile exception to its second-lockdown ban on public gatherings. The right to protest (with due care) is an essential service. However, the government has conceded on picket...

French teachers strike

School teachers in France struck on 10 November to demand better virus controls in schools. Their demands included: • Rota systems, with students in school half-time, to allow half-size classes • More staff, again to facilitate smaller classes • Better ventilation and cleaning • Free masks. (Masks are compulsory in French schools). Unions report a 45% turnout for the strike from junior high schools and 20% from primary. In some areas students blockaded senior high schools in the days before the strike as an act of solidarity. On 5 November, the government tried to deflect the strike by...

Schools: workers' control vs closure

Ireland’s second lockdown (21 October to 2 December), with schools open, has brought a 75% drop in infections from around 19-25 October to 14 November. The Netherlands’ (14 October, tightened from 4 November), with schools open, has brought a 45% drop so far from a 31 October peak. Wales’s, 23 October to 9 November, with schools closed to 2 November, ended with rates no lower than 23 October but maybe a third below peak around 29 October. Northern Ireland’s, 16 October to 13 November, with schools closed to 2 Nov, has got rates 50% down from the 12-18 October peak. Belgium’s (2 November for 6...

More student battles brewing

In the week starting 16 November, groups of students are organising workshops, banner drops, and email campaigns to highlight high rents, draconian lockdowns, and general lack of support at UK Universities. The National Union of Students (NUS) is promoting and encouraging local events, but has stopped short of calling for a national campaign of rent strikes. From 12 November, students at Manchester escalated their rent strike by occupying Owens Park Tower. The occupiers say: “We were lied to and brought onto unsafe campuses, forced to pay insane rent for facilities we can’t even access. We’ve...

Losses for communalists in Bosnia

Municipal elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina, delayed because of Covid-19, took place on 14-15 November, and the earliest indications are that the parties based on ethnic groupings have fared badly amongst voter concerns over widespread corruption and what is seen by many as a disastrous response to the epidemic. In Sarajevo, the SDA (Party of Democratic Action, the party claiming to represent Bosnian Muslims) lost out in three of four voting districts and in Banja Luka, opposition parties made important gains. The HDZBiH (Croat Democratic Union of Bosnia-Hercegovina, the party claiming to...

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