‘Of course people are angry that Tory government adviser Dominic Cummings has broken the rules that most other people have kept’, Mollie Brown told the Communist Party’s political committee on Wednesday evening (27 May 2020).
‘They sense that we are not “all in it together” and that there’s one set of rules for the rich and powerful and another for the rest of us’, she told the online meeting.
‘However, this affair should not obscure the need to resist attempts by government and business to push people back to work without adequate safeguards against COVID-19 infection’, Ms Brown added. She pointed out that small businesses were exempt from health and safety regulations requiring risk assessments at work, while big companies are even more likely to put profits before the welfare of employees and customers.
Britain’s Communists expressed their solidarity with teachers, parents and local councils who oppose a phased re-opening of schools in England from June 1. ‘It will be impossible for children to enjoy the normal educational, social and personal benefits from school attendance when they have to abide by such drastic rules in such abnormal conditions’, Mollie Brown insisted. She understood the desperate need for millions of workers to receive their wages and said their plight underlined the case for an urgent reform of Universal Credit arrangements and rapid progress towards a national childcare system.
‘The best defence for workers during and after this lockdown is trade union membership and effective workplace organisation’, Ms Brown declared. A leading campaigner against austerity in north-east England, she said there should be no return to the ‘old normal’ before the coronavirus crisis. Trades unions, trades councils and the People’s Assembly will have to lead a united movement against an unsafe return to work, pay freezes, redundancies and victimisation.
And looking ahead to future battles for better pay and conditions, Mollie Brown reminded the CP political committee of Ewan MacColl’s lyrics about nurses and firefighters in the Thatcher era:
‘They may be gallant heroes when they’re saving people’s lives/ But they’re just a bunch of layabouts when they’re asking for a rise’.Ewan MacColl