4 March 2020

The New Economics Foundation’s Aidan Harper: “Coronavirus isn’t just a disease — it’s a test of the systems that are part of our everyday lives. In the recent guidance it released to the public, the [UK] government said it would encourage self-isolation as the primary way to contain the spread of the virus. Yet for many of the low-paid workers in Britain who look after your parents, deliver your food or drive your Uber, self-isolation means forgoing wages in order to protect others from disease. … The government’s advice to self-isolate seems tone-deaf to the reality of many British workers. Precarious work, where employees can’t afford to take sick days for fear of losing their wages, impedes what is needed most when containing a pandemic: acting with other people in mind. This is why public health policies must place the interests of the least well-off at their centre.” The same goes for Australia. The union movement’s call for unconditional financial support for coronavirus-affected people [$] must be supported.