Pre delegate meeting interview with Ian Scott, President of BTUC on Corona crisis and its impact or Trade Unionists and other working communities

Alternatively, use the following details to join the meeting over the zoom

Meeting ID: 895 5088 8818 Password: 027430

Delegates meeting Discussing the Corona Virus and its impact on the economy and how we as part of the Trade Union movement should respond as we face huge job losses and severe austerity impacting millions of working people across the country. At the same time our health and safety is severely challenged. This will be first of the several meetings BTUC will be organising over the next few weeks and months to help prepare the labour and trade union movement for the coming storm.

This meeting is titled Coming out of the pandemic – the task for the labour movement. The discussion will be introduced by Michael Roberts Marxist economist. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to thousands of extra deaths in the UK and elsewhere. Because health systems were run down resourced, most governments were forced into lockdowns of the economy in varying degrees to contain the virus. This has led to the collapse of production, investment and employment across most major economies. In the case of Britain, it is the largest drop in economic activity for 300 years!

Workers have been sent home, sacked or furloughed. The damage is most felt by those in key necessary jobs and among the lower paid. While professionals and others can work at home, millions of others must go to workplaces and travel to do their jobs, putting themselves at risk of infection.

The government has announced a series of spending programmes to provide incomes for those out of work or furloughed. The Bank of England has

printed money for banks to lend to small and large businesses to tide them over. But these measures will run out by the end of the summer. Most

worrying, millions of workers may find that there are no jobs for them to come back to as their employers make them redundant or go bust. Many other companies are preparing to reduce the hours of work and demand pay cuts. The TUC has called for jobs to be protected and is promoting a jobs guarantee for at least six months, particularly for young workers who will be the first to lose their jobs. Colleges remain closed for those who need to study for qualifications and apprenticeships.

Despite the emergency measures, millions can be expected to take significant hit to their income and employment for years to come. At the same time, the British government is running up a huge bill with the annual budget deficit set to triple this year and next. The public debt will rocket to levels not seen since the end of WW2, as large and small companies demand bailout funds. Once the pandemic is contained and the lockdowns are ended, we shall not return to normal. Moreover, the Conservative government is very likely to want to re-introduce the policies of austerity that workers experienced after the end of the Great Recession ten years ago. There are plans for tax rises, cuts in spending on public services and a new public sector pay freeze -despite the courageous efforts of health and other essential workers during the pandemic. Companies too will be demanding that workers accept poorer work conditions to ‘make ends meet’.

How should the labour movement react to this likely new attack on incomes, jobs and public services? Michael Roberts, former City economist and long supporter of the labour movement, will discuss how the labour movement must prepare to defend working class livelihoods when the pandemic is over.