Health & Safety at Work

Unite union facilitates cover-up of COVID-19 outbreak in UK meat processing plants

By Tony Robson, 25 June 2020

Meat processing factories across the world have become a breeding ground for the virus, and working in them is a potential death sentence.

COVID-19 rages through food processing plants, warehouses and manufacturing facilities

By Jerry White, 23 June 2020

More than 24,000 meatpacking workers have been infected and at least 91 have died.

“You risk your life when you go back to work”

Ford workers express health concerns as COVID-19 pandemic spreads

By Tim Rivers and George Kirby, 23 June 2020

Ford workers spoke to the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter about returning to work during the pandemic.

Walkout by sorting office workers at Barnsley Royal Mail after coronavirus outbreak

By Thomas Scripps, 23 June 2020

Royal Mail workers at the central post sorting office in Barnsley, England walked out yesterday after colleagues tested positive for coronavirus.

Companies vow no more shutdowns for COVID-19 as US auto plants resume full production

By Shannon Jones, 20 June 2020

All the major carmakers have expressed their determination to continue production without interruption even as COVID-19 cases surge in many areas of the US.

Around 250 workers infected with COVID-19 in three UK food processing plants

By Robert Stevens, 20 June 2020

The outbreaks underscore the criminality of the government’s decision to enforce a mass return to work and the lack of basic work safety in plants that have been operating during the pandemic.

Hundreds of new COVID-19 infections in German meat industry

By Marianne Arens, 20 June 2020

More than two-thirds of the meat packers at the Tönnies abattoir in Rheda-Wiedenbrück have been infected with COVID-19, with 730 positive initial test results out of 1,050 tested.

Doctors head legal challenge to UK government on health care deaths and PPE

By Rory Woods, 20 June 2020

At least 181 health workers and 131 social care workers have died while working on the frontline.

More than 40 percent of all US deaths from COVID-19 are in nursing homes

By Benjamin Mateus, 17 June 2020

A report published Tuesday says that there were 51,000 COVID-19 deaths among residents of US nursing homes and extended care facilities.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Brazil’s meat processing plants and mines

By Tomas Castanheira, 17 June 2020

Clusters of coronavirus at large companies across the country threaten the lives of thousands of workers.

Canada’s grocery chains slash wages as pandemic continues to rage

By Roger Jordan, 17 June 2020

The decision to abolish the pay premium shows the companies’ shocking disregard for the lives of workers.

An interview with Dr. Mona Masood, founder of the Physician Support Line

By Kate Randall, 17 June 2020

The WSWS spoke to Dr. Mona Masood about her experience setting up a support line of psychiatrists serving the mental health needs of physicians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian cruise ship crew stage second protest in three days

By Tom Casey, 16 June 2020

Thousands of cruise ship workers—some of them infected with COVID-19—remained trapped on vessels around the world after the industry shut down last March in response to the pandemic

Germany: Schools and child daycare centres open despite the high risk of infection

By Marianne Arens, 16 June 2020

The same politicians who pump hundreds of billions of euros of so-called “Corona aid” into the vaults of the big banks and leading companies see no need to equip schools with the measures needed to combat the coronavirus.

Virginia and Maryland ease COVID-19 restrictions

By Dominic Gustavo, 16 June 2020

The state authorities in Virginia and Maryland are proceeding with the reopening of the economy with complete indifference to the lives and health of working people in the Washington DC area and across the entire region.

UK: Johnson opens the economy and guarantees fresh COVID-19 outbreak

By Thomas Scripps, 16 June 2020

Scientists warn that easing the lockdown under current conditions is likely to lead to a resurgence of coronavirus, endangering lives and throwing away the sacrifices made by workers and their families

UK: Legal action highlights social-Darwinist policies against the disabled during COVID-19 pandemic

By Alice Summers, 16 June 2020

Numerous medical guidance documents published during the pandemic suggest that coronavirus patients can be denied or deprioritised for medical care solely on the basis of their age or existing mental or physical disabilities.

Philadelphia public workers protest poor working conditions and police violence

By Nick Barrickman, 13 June 2020

Sanitation workers and educators took to the streets this week to demonstrate against Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney’s austerity measures and increased funding for the police.

UK Health and Safety Executive provides cover for Johnson government’s back-to-work drive

By Tony Robson, 13 June 2020

The Health and Safety Executive has not carried out any inspections of workplaces since March to reduce risks to its own staff.

India: A massive explosion in Gujarat chemical plant kills 10 workers

By Arun Kumar, 13 June 2020

The tragic loss of life and terrible injuries are a direct result of government and company indifference towards mandatory work safety measures.

COVID-19 cases spike across the United States

By Jacob Crosse, 12 June 2020

Twelve US states—Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Arkansas, Florida, South Carolina, Delaware and Hawaii—have all seen a 25 percent or more spike in average cases within the last week.

“They treat us like we are slaves”

Detroit Flex-N-Gate workers denounce sweatshop conditions

By J. Cooper, 12 June 2020

Workers are facing intolerable conditions after the reopening of the auto parts plants.

“Make no mistake, the union supports ramping up production”

UAW threatens job losses at Ford Kentucky Truck Plant over COVID-19-related absences

By Marcus Day and Jessica Goldstein, 12 June 2020

The UAW’s threats came the same day that Ford’s Chief Operating Officer, Jim Farley, announced that the company expects production to return to pre-pandemic levels by July 6.

UK: Indian cruise ship crew members still awaiting repatriation

By Paul Bond, 12 June 2020

Around 650 Indian crew members of TUI/Marella cruise ships are still laid up in waters off Southampton on the south coast of England.

How Canada’s unions and NDP paved way for bill enforcing return to work amid pandemic

By Roger Jordan and Keith Jones, 12 June 2020

The proposed legislation would impoverish and criminalize workers who refuse to risk their lives and those of their families for corporate profit.

COVID-19 eruptions increasing in US meatpacking plants, logistics centers

By Shannon Jones, 10 June 2020

As all levels of government abandon any attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, workplaces are increasingly becoming vectors of transmission.

US Postal Service covers up COVID-19 death toll in New York City

By Tom Carter and Shuvu Batta, 10 June 2020

“There are people that have been gone for weeks, and people who have been gone who never came back.”

Bridgestone tire defends safety “playbook” as infections rise at Iowa plant

By Jacob Crosse, 10 June 2020

Working with United Steelworkers Local 1301, Bridgestone has continued production despite rising infections among workers and the surrounding community.

COVID-19 spreads in US auto plants as officials hide information from workers

By Jessica Goldstein, 10 June 2020

Three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed among workers at General Motors’ assembly plant in Wentzville, Missouri, in recent days.

COVID-19 cases rise rapidly after South Asia’s governments abandon lockdowns

By our correspondents, 10 June 2020

India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have all recorded dramatic increases in COVID-19 infections and deaths over the past week.

Canadian government threatens fines and jail time to force workers back to work

By Roger Jordan, 10 June 2020

The Liberal government is spearheading a homicidal back-to-work drive that prioritizes big business profit over workers’ lives.

UK: Setback for Johnson’s school reopening plan due to popular opposition

By Tania Kent, 10 June 2020

The temporary retreat is a credit to the millions of parents and educators who opposed the government and acted in defiance of the trade unions.

A reality check on the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic

By Bryan Dyne, 9 June 2020

More than 400,000 men, women and children have lost their lives from COVID-19 and the lives of countless millions more remain in danger as the number of cases continues to grow.

UK: Postal workers at Bridgewater walk out as six COVID-19 cases confirmed at Wellingborough

By Paul Lee, 9 June 2020

Workers have faced threats of disciplinary action such as “wilful delay of the mail,” which can lead to instant dismissal.

UK: Virus infection rate increases as Johnson government continues ending lockdown

By Robert Stevens, 9 June 2020

Since imposing a lockdown on March 23, Johnson and government ministers have proclaimed keeping the “R” rate below 1 as the precondition for ending the lockdown. But ending the lockdown continues.

Alberta’s hard-right premier dismisses coronavirus as “influenza”

By Janet Browning, 5 June 2020

Kenney’s callous remark is part of his government’s reckless back-to-work policy, and underscores the broad support within Canada’s ruling elite for a criminal “herd immunity” strategy.

Opposition builds to re-opening of UK schools

By Tania Kent, 5 June 2020

In response to a Zoom webinar held by the National Education Union on Wednesday—two days after the re-opening of schools—many educators on Facebook expressed hostility to the inaction of the union.

London bus drivers face COVID-19 disaster: Build rank-and-file safety committees!

By Laura Tiernan, 5 June 2020

Unite has signed off on the Johnson government’s COVID-19 transport plan despite the serious and imminent danger it poses to drivers and the travelling public.

US colleges prepare full opening of campuses in the name of football

By Andy Thompson, 5 June 2020

Over the past several decades college sports has become a multibillion-dollar industry and has made athletics the center of revenue and funding plans in most major US universities.

999 strike in Spain

5 June 2020

US nurses speak on dangers of COVID-19 exposure at their workplaces

By Katy Kinner, 4 June 2020

WSWS reporters spoke to nurses across the US who shared their anger and frustration over governmental and employer neglect throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sri Lankan health workers protest wage and transport cuts during pandemic

By W. A. Sunil, 4 June 2020

While hospital workers across all grades and union affiliations participated in the protests the unions are seeking to head off a confrontation with the government.

Survey exposes COVID-19 dangers facing call centre workers

By Joe Mount, 4 June 2020

Several call centre workers have lost their lives to COVID-19, with thousands in fear that their health and safety is being jeopardised.

Democratic Governor Whitmer lifts major COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan

By Kevin Reed, 3 June 2020

The announcement rescinds the stay-at-home order, along with a series of other restrictions even though most of the state remains in the “flattening” phase of the pandemic.

Canadian farm and industrial worksites become new coronavirus hotspots

By Carl Bronski, 3 June 2020

The reckless back-to-work drive across Canada is already producing new outbreaks of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

Oppose the premature lifting of COVID-19 safety restrictions!

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 3 June 2020

The Socialist Equality Party opposes the profit-driven “back-to-work” campaign as the global COVID-19 pandemic worsens and fresh outbreaks appear across the country.

999 CDC report on nurses impacted by the pandemic

3 June 2020

Nurses at HCA Healthcare across the US protest job cuts and lack of PPE

By Alex Johnson, 2 June 2020

Nurses protests are erupting under conditions where hospitals across the country are denying access to personal protective equipment in the pandemic and have already laid off thousands of health care workers.

COVID-19 outbreaks continue surge in meatpacking plants following forced reopenings

By Christopher Davion, 2 June 2020

Meatpacking plants continue to be a major source of COVID-19 transmission in US Midwestern states.

Thousands of Canadian medical workers infected with COVID-19 due to lack of PPE

By Omar Ali, 1 June 2020

More than 2,000 nurses in British Columbia have filed complaints about the lack of personal protective equipment.

Detroit autoworkers report unexplained illness at Jefferson North Assembly as COVID cases mount

By Shannon Jones, 30 May 2020

Several B Crew workers at Fiat Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly in Detroit fell ill from unknown causes during work on Thursday.

Workers in Germany report on corona virus infection risk in workplaces

By Ulrich Rippert, 30 May 2020

Workers highlight the lack of safety measures in public transit and factories.

No to the reopening of schools! Build action committees to safeguard children and teachers!

Statement by the Socialist Equality Party (UK), 30 May 2020

The “phased” return of school children is a criminal policy that places children, teachers, families, and communities open to the risk of serious illness and death.

Local television stations broadcast fake news stories scripted by Amazon

By Douglas Lyons and Nick Barrickman, 29 May 2020

Reporters at nearly a dozen local news stations in the US dutifully read from scripts prepared by Amazon while broadcasting public relations videos prepared and edited by the company.

Nursing union NYSNA provides cover for Cuomo’s push to reopen the economy

By Ali Elhassan, 29 May 2020

The New York State Nurses Association is promoting the illusion that the political establishment responsible for jeopardizing the health of the population and frontline health care workers can be pressured into adopting socially responsible policies.

UK: Weston General Hospital shuts due to coronavirus outbreak among staff

By Robert Stevens and Ben Trent, 29 May 2020

The outbreak reveals the enormous dangers to the health and lives of National Health Service workers.

Letter from an American teacher: “In a pandemic, no one is safe unless we are all safe.”

29 May 2020

The WSWS Teacher Newsletter has received this letter from a high school AP Biology teacher in the Bay Area, California for publication.

Financial press hails Australian government’s union-employer offensive against workers

By Oscar Grenfell, 29 May 2020

The unions have committed to a sweeping pro-business overhaul of workplace conditions and industrial relations on the pretext of the pandemic.

Automakers expand US production, even as COVID-19 cases increase

By Shannon Jones, 29 May 2020

The almost daily exposure of new COVID-19 cases in auto plants has not slowed the rush to increase production by North American carmakers, who face enormous pressure from financial markets.

Over 62,300 US health workers infected and 291 dead from COVID-19

By Katy Kinner, 28 May 2020

Widespread employer and governmental neglect of basic safety protections are to blame for the massive increase in infection rates and deaths among health care workers.

Reports question undercounting of COVID-19 deaths in US and globally

By Bryan Dyne, 27 May 2020

There is increasing evidence that the actual fatalities caused by the pandemic are up to three times the numbers officially reported.

US corporations, government cover up workplace infections and deaths

By Jerry White, 27 May 2020

Recent reports on the meatpacking, logistics and other industries document a systematic effort to conceal the number of COVID-19 cases in workplaces.

UK: Johnson government crisis worsens after Dominic Cummings press conference

By Thomas Scripps and Chris Marsden, 27 May 2020

Cummings has emerged as the near universally despised embodiment of a hated and crisis-wracked government.

Sweden’s “herd immunity” policy produces one of world’s highest fatality rates

By Jordan Shilton, 27 May 2020

Sweden’s policy has been praised by reactionary political forces and the corporate media internationally to bolster their criminal back-to-work campaigns.

JBS meatpacking plant reopens in Brazil as Latin America becomes COVID-19 epicenter

By Gabriel Lemos, 27 May 2020

Workers Party governments financed JBS’s transformation into a transnational, whose plants have become COVID-19 hotspots in both Brazil and the US.

Protests by medical workers grow as hospitals overwhelmed across Mexico

By Andrea Lobo, 27 May 2020

The protests are part of an international wave of unrest among medical workers demanding personal protective equipment, medicines, respirators, testing and staffing.

Indonesia experiences major surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases

By Owen Howell, 27 May 2020

The Indonesian government is blaming the sharp rise in confirmed cases on ordinary workers and peasants for not adhering to social distancing measures.

Quebec Premier accelerates return to work in Montreal—Canada’s COVID-19 epicenter

By Richard Dufour, 27 May 2020

Acknowledging that it is “taking a gamble” with workers’ lives, the Quebec government is intensifying its drive to “reopen” the economy.

Pennsylvania reopens despite gross mishandling of COVID-19 data

By Ben Collyer, 27 May 2020

Figures released this week paint a horrific picture of the suffering and despair caused by the pandemic among the elderly and infirm.

Cruise ship workers protest government and cruise line inaction

By Tom Casey, 27 May 2020

While repatriation plans have been arranged for ship workers after significant delay, thousands still remain trapped on board.

British Trotskyists issue call for working class action against pandemic

Statement of the Socialist Equality Party (UK), 27 May 2020

The Socialist Equality Party (UK) opposes the reckless back-to-work campaign and the reopening of schools and non-essential workplaces as the pandemic continues to spread.

Germany’s Left Party spearheading deadly back-to-work drive

By Johannes Stern, 26 May 2020

After voting for the multi-billion-euro coronavirus bailout package in the federal parliament, the Left Party is now supporting the grand coalition’s reopening of the economy.

Postal workers stop work in Peterborough and High Wycombe, England, over COVID-19 safety fears

By Paul Lee, 26 May 2020

The threat to safety in the two offices are replicated in delivery and sorting offices all over the country and internationally.

Reopened schools close across France as coronavirus found among students and staff

By Will Morrow, 26 May 2020

Two weeks after the reopening of schools began in France, more than 70 schools have been forced to close as coronavirus cases have been found among students and teachers.

Maryland Democratic Party officials cite coronavirus crisis to impose sweeping budget cuts on workers

By Ray Coleman, 26 May 2020

Democratic Party officials in Montgomery County seized upon the COVID-19 crisis to impose austerity upon county employees, many of whom are working on the front lines of the pandemic.

“This is not a game that I want to play with my life”: US autoworkers denounce premature return to work

By our reporters, 26 May 2020

In the last week alone, cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at several auto plants in Detroit, Chicago, Kentucky, New York and Indiana.

Automakers, Unifor and Ontario government push plant reopenings as COVID-19 continues to spread

By Carl Bronski, 26 May 2020

The premature back-to-work drive in Canada’s auto industry is being spearheaded by hard-right Ontario Premier Doug Ford, in concert with the automakers, the financial oligarchy and the union Unifor.

High COVID-19 infection rates among doctors and nurses in Germany

By Markus Salzmann, 25 May 2020

According to the public health body Robert Koch Institute, more than 20,000 workers in German hospitals, doctors’ practices, nursing homes and care services are now infected.

Auto companies continue opposition to mass testing as COVID-19 spreads in factories

By Shannon Jones, 23 May 2020

As more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are discovered at auto plants, the drive to restart production is being exposed as a reckless course of action that will inevitably lead to the needless deaths of workers.

Three UK meat processing workers die of COVID-19

By Barry Mason, 23 May 2020

The three died in different sections of Cranswick Convenience Foods factory in Wombwell, Barnsley.

Strikes and protests by Brazilian nurses amid explosion of COVID-19 cases

By Tomas Castanheira, 22 May 2020

Over the last 15 days, there have been dozens of protests and strikes by health care workers across Brazil, as more nurses are dying than anywhere else in the world.

UK Labour council, Community union reject appeal to close ASOS warehouse after confirmed COVID-19 cases

By Tony Robson, 22 May 2020

The defence of ASOS workers’ lives requires a fight against the veto that such corporations enjoy over workplace safety.

”We want to be back, but not at the costs of people’s lives”

UK teachers speak on government’s back-to-school plan

By our reporters, 22 May 2020

The WSWS spoke with teachers this week about their opposition to the Johnson government’s reopening of schools.

“We need our jobs, but our lives and health are more important”

COVID-19 cases at Ford plants in Detroit, Chicago as anger grows over inadequate safety measures

By Jessica Goldstein and Jerry White, 21 May 2020

New infections have emerged at Ford plants in Dearborn, Michigan and Chicago and also at supplier plant, just days after the reopening of the North American auto industry.

“They can more than afford to let us keep it permanently”

Amazon workers react to elimination of pandemic hazard pay

By Douglas Lyons, 21 May 2020

Amazon has terminated its unpaid sick time policy and will roll back the $2 per hour pay raise it implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the rising number of infections.

Education unions and Labour councils ready back-door imposition of Johnson government’s “back to school” plan

By Laura Tiernan, 21 May 2020

The decision to send nursery aged children—including babies and toddlers—and primary-aged students as young as 4, 5 and 6 back into schools was taken solely by Johnson and his cabinet of deranged Thatcherites.

Ford Chicago worker tests positive for COVID-19 after North American auto plants reopen

By Shannon Jones, 20 May 2020

The Trump administration is spearheading a campaign to force a return to work, eliminating all pretense of combatting the spread of the coronavirus.

New analysis predicts US coronavirus deaths will triple by end of year

By Bryan Dyne, 20 May 2020

There is evidence that the Florida government, and possibly others, are censoring the data needed to accurately study the development of the pandemic.

COVID-19 spreads among Ford workers in Turkey

By Ulas Atesci, 20 May 2020

Unsafe and even deadly conditions during the pandemic are an international issue facing workers of every country.

UK: Johnson’s criminal “back-to-work” drive depends on the trade unions

By Chris Marsden and Thomas Scripps, 20 May 2020

The reopening of schools and non-essential workplaces must be opposed until they are made safe.

Letter from UK teaching assistant against reopening of schools

20 May 2020

Sarah, who works in a primary school in south Yorkshire, wrote to the WSWS about the Johnson government’s plans to reopen UK schools from June 1.

Hundreds of Mexican maquiladora workers dying after back-to-work orders take effect

By Eric London, 19 May 2020

In Northern Baja California, 432 of the 519 people who have officially died from the virus in the state were maquiladora workers.

Workers angry, concerned as US auto plants reopen

By Jerry White, 19 May 2020

Tens of thousands of workers returned to factories across the US Monday in a major test of the Trump administration’s plans to restart the flow of corporate profits even as the death toll of the pandemic continues to rise.

US health care system devastated by COVID-19 as the markets clamor to reopen the economy

By Benjamin Mateus and Clara Weiss, 19 May 2020

Health care workers throughout the US have been furloughed as health care systems are facing economic devastation caused by the pandemic. A second surge in economically hard-hit areas will confront an equally devasted health care infrastructure.

UK police question suspect in spitting incident that led to rail worker’s death

By Michael Barnes, 19 May 2020

Belly Mujinga’s death produced a horrified reaction among rail workers and an outpouring of sympathy in the working class, but the deranged character of the attack also solicited an outpouring of crocodile tears from those who are ultimately responsible for creating the conditions that led to her death.

Amid failure by corporations and governments to repatriate employees

Cruise ship workers take action in defiance of company threats

By Tom Casey, 19 May 2020

Crew members on board the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCCL) Majesty of the Seas staged a protest Friday on the upper deck of the ship, demanding answers from the captain as to when they would be sent home.

Petition demanding pandemic hazard pay for UPS workers gains 300,000 signatures

By Erik Schreiber and Kayla Costa, 19 May 2020

The response to the petition demonstrates workers’ willingness to fight, but its appeal to the Teamsters union is a dead end. A genuine struggle for safety requires the formation of independent rank-and-file committees.

Explosion at downtown Los Angeles warehouse injures 12 firefighters

By Peter Ross, 19 May 2020

The warehouse explosion spread the fire to adjacent buildings but was contained in about an hour by some 230 responders.

“There will be a human cost from this. Everyone knows that.”

Drive to reopen auto plants in North America threatens thousands of lives

By Shannon Jones, 16 May 2020

As the Detroit-based auto companies prepare to restart their North American factories, opposition is growing among workers to a deadly return to work.

Mississippi: Workers at Brentwood Originals pillow factory continue walkouts

By Cordell Gascoigne, 16 May 2020

The walkouts at the Mississippi pillow factory are part of a wave of wildcat strikes and other job actions across the United States and internationally by workers demanding protection from COVID-19.