Full self-isolation pay for all is a vital safety issue – no exceptions

While management have retreated to the safety of their private homes, many of us are still at work, putting our lives and the lives of our loved ones at risk to provide essential services to our communities. Hundreds of thousands of us, including in the NHS, are precariously employed with no ordinary rights to paid leave. If these workers, who are often the lowest paid, get Coronavirus symptoms or a member or their family get Coronavirus symptoms then many will not be able to afford to follow public health advice to self-isolate. This is a problem not just for these workers but for the entire workforce and the people we serve. To slow the spread of COVID19 all essential workers need the right to follow public health advice without suffering financial hardship.

NHS Employers have recognised that workers rights to full paid leave to follow public health advice is “essential” for “infection control purposes”. If it is essential in the NHS then it is essential for all of us going about our duties at this time: food production and distribution, transport, logistics, delivery, social care, utilities, manufacturing and the large numbers of security and cleaning staff who work alongside us in all sectors.

The degrading of workers rights over may decades has allowed capitalists to maximise profits at our expense. Privatisation and outsourcing have not only turned public services into opportunities for private profiteering, but also have fractured and broken trade union organisation, atomising workers and making it more difficult to fight back. We have lived through a long period of gradual defeats for our class and it has left us ill-prepared to deal with this crisis.

But in the last few weeks, through workers’ solidarity and collective action, many workers have won full sick and self isolation pay for all. In the NHS, London Underground and elsewhere, we are winning safer workplaces and improved workers’ rights for all. We are campaigning to build on these successes and ensure that when this pandemic is over, we retain the rights we have won and have stronger trade union organisation to win further gains for all.

Join a union. Fight the bosses. Stay safe and look after one another. No going back.