Awaking from the status of lockdown emergency, the British government have sprung into ‘austerity mode’, telling us to brace ourselves for the closure of small businesses and the loss of thousands, potentially millions even, of jobs, as they are unable to provide sustainable financial backing to employers that are reeling due to the loss of income brought about by Coronavirus.
As expected, following the distribution of survival funds, like every other capable government in the world, the British are ordering the introduction of “roadmaps” throughout their colonised territories in an attempt to reinvigorate the financial system, undoubtedly at the expense of further lives.
The new version of the furlough scheme, by relying on businesses to contribute towards furloughed workers’ wages, has given the green light to mass sackings and the unrestricted exploitation of endangered workers. Employers are not compelled to contribute to this scheme and retain the option of laying off workers should they decide that the scheme isn’t convenient enough for them.
Legislation restricting the reach of organised trade unions has also been maintained to maximise Tory control during the ‘gradual lifting of restrictions’. The unions themselves don’t appear to be shouting from the rooftops either, appearing content to permit the state-funded ‘Health and Safety Executive’ to take the lead on the welfare of millions of workers.
In other words, workers have no line of defence granted to them by the state beyond their local HR department. This was put directly to the Tory party representative on BBC News last week and he almost crawled underneath the podium to avoid responding to the concerns of employees drowning in uncertainty and worry.
The only clarity delivered by the British government at this stage of the COVID-19 process is that whether or not this pandemic continues, people will be forced to go back to work, regardless of the status of the ‘R-Numbers’, or else they will live in poverty.
Reading between the lines, this isn’t difficult to translate from their ramblings. The money tree that wasn’t there and then was there, is suddenly vanishing yet again as the financial elite review their outgoings after two months of shut-down.
In the 2016/2017 tax year, the British government lifted over £700 Billion in taxes from us; at least that’s what they declared. The cost of the COVID-19 financial mitigation packages introduced by Westminster since the outbreak amounts to or will amount to between 300 and 500 billion pounds, which seems like a massive amount, but it isn’t in the context of global economies; this is pennies to the British government, let alone affordable, especially considering they haven’t suffered a financial hit of this magnitude in almost a century.
Nonetheless, our communities and our families will be expected to foot the artificial bill designed and slammed onto the table by the tories and their messengers in the ‘devolved institutions’.
It seems like only yesterday the Tory government moved to provide a moderate level of financial stability to workers impacted by Coronavirus, but as expected, they now lay out their plans to seek revenge. The nurses, the binmen, the retail workers; all those key workers that we have celebrated now for months, are again in the firing line as these very workers that offered their services on the frontline during this pandemic are staged to play another key role; paying back the monetary cost of COVID-19.
Recession is the new title on the state news broadcasts as the working class are groomed to endure a new injection of financial hardship. As the lockdown measures are gradually eased, this new ‘national duty’ of paying more taxes and suffering a lower quality of life for the next decade too will be gradually worked into the mentality of society.
As ordinary people look into the fog of the aftermath of this episode, the opportunity exists for us to engage them on a political level beyond and including the national question. Trade unions and political movements have a key role to play in the months ahead. As the post-COVID offensive against the working class is manufactured by the financial elite, so to must the defence mechanisms required to counter it.
We were all in it together, but only for two months. Now, the working class are on their own again. Never has organising against capitalism been as urgent as it is now.