We are not all in it together

Meat factory workers

The government’s repeated assurances that “we are all in this pandemic together” have taken yet another knock, this time from the Office of National Statistics.

So far from being a great leveller, it turns out that covid is widening and sharpening existing differences, with manual workers not only condemned to the worst pay and working conditions but now also many times more likely to meet an early death from the coronavirus.

The ONS figures reveal that men working in processing plants had the highest rates of covid deaths in England and Wales last year, recording a rate of 143.2 deaths per 100,000 males, compared with a rate of 31.4 deaths among men of the same age in the wider population.

Whilst Ben Humberstone from the ONS says there are a “complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death – from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions”, nothing can obscure the decisive role that is played by occupation and class.

Poorer workers are more likely to be emloyed in manual jobs, more likely to be classed as ‘essential’, less likely to be furloughed and less likely to be able to isolate. To cap it off they are also more likely to be suffering from other ailments owing to stress, overcrowded living conditions, inadequate nutrition, poor air quality etc.

Once again, the pandemic is ramming home the lesson that capitalism kills. Workers need socialism!