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Sick pay December 3, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Excellent piece by Owen Jones in the Guardian on the utter detachment of the Tory high command from reality in relation to working lives and the pandemic. He notes:

It should be impossible to be shocked by anything in 2020, let alone the latest example of ministerial chutzpah tossed on to a Mount Everest of Tory shamelessness. Yet this week Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and car crash interviews, pondered: “Why in Britain do we think it’s acceptable to soldier on and go into work if you have flu symptoms or a runny nose, thus making your colleagues ill?” He went on, blaming those who believe that “as long as you can get out of bed you should get into work”.

As Jones says, the attitudes he frets about are a direct result a ‘derisory level of sick pay’. As he continues, the OECD figures reveal the UK has the lowest mandatory sick pay of the industrialised nations as a proportion of average earnings. This isn’t something that fell out of the sky during the pandemic, its no glitch for the Tories – it’s a feature. And the means to combat it, political action of course, but also unionisation, and a greater sense of the vulnerability of workers when they are isolated. And look at the effects of the lack of these safeguards:

Britain has the worst Covid death toll in Europe, in large part because our government locked down too late, and reopened the economy with a disastrously malfunctioning test and trace system. But the fact so many British workers cannot afford to self-isolate is yet another toxic ingredient in a fatal brew. As the Trades Union Congress points out, 2 million workers don’t qualify for statutory sick pay, including more than a third of workers on zero-hours contracts, one in 10 female workers, and over a fifth of the youngest workers.

I’ve noted before how amongst the creatures cohort some parents are taking Covid very seriously indeed, because some are single parents, generally women, often non-national, in jobs where they are in exposed by dint of the nature of the workplace to greater potential infection. These aren’t high paying jobs, almost needless to say. And these are real workers at the coalface day in day out.


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