‘No hiding places’

Unite Covid inquiry call

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Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner spoke supporting a motion calling for a a public inquiry into Covid-19.

Welcoming the composite he said, “Unite was one of the unions that first called for a full and independent public inquiry and we continue to provide evidence to assist the TUC in coordinating our collective input.

“Like all of us we lost members to Covid … disproportionately from our Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities communities. In transport through retail to health and social care.

“Congress it’s no surprise after 13 years of austerity, cuts to public services, privatisation and deregulation … it was working class communities, the elderly, vulnerable and disabled, those already struggling with poor health, too often relying on food banks and, living in housing that in many cases should have been condemned long ago that bore the brunt of the pandemic.”

He continued, “We’ve also highlighted that many sectors with the highest number of deaths have a history of working both long and unsocial hours and asked that the inquiry investigate whether this made workers more susceptible to the disease.

“So we welcome the call to highlight the equalities impact of the pandemic in the motion. Congress, the motion calls for decision makers to be held to account.”

Steve went on to say, “While we can stand proud of our collective role in protecting millions with furlough, and our members who returned to work to manufacture the PPE and medical ventilators desperately needed on the front line.

“Government ministers who failed to prepare, went on to fail us at every level, at every opportunity. Passing VIP lane contracts to mates who went on to bill us for millions from the bar of the pub they ran.

“While they were pissing it up in Downing Street, across the river at St Thomas’, loved ones were gasping their last breath.

“So we say let there be no hiding places, no escape routes or collective failure excuses. We demand that those responsible for gross negligence, corruption or a wider dereliction of public duty are identified, prosecuted and locked up. Denied their freedom just as they denied some 229,000 victims a full and healthy life.”

He concluded by adding a final call to Congress. “We pay tribute to the work and determination of Covid Bereaved Families to seek justice and we stand here in absolute and complete solidarity with them.”

By Amanda Campbell

Pic by Mark Thomas