Health & Safety at Work

Bangladeshi and Cambodian garment workers strike against COVID-19 job cuts; Pakistani medical workers demand safe working conditions

Workers Struggles: Asia and Australia

25 April 2020

The World Socialist Web Site invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular feature.

“Trump is more interested in getting the economy going than he is in our lives”

US autoworkers oppose rush to reopen plants

By Jerry White, 24 April 2020

The automakers and the United Auto Workers union are moving rapidly to reopen the auto industry even though it would accelerate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

Meatpacking plants at center of many North America COVID-19 outbreaks

By Shannon Jones, 24 April 2020

Many communities where meatpacking plants are located are suffering much higher infection rates than the national average.

London bus drivers say: “Give public transport workers protection or shut it down”

By Miles Driver and Laura Tiernan, 24 April 2020

Drivers told the WSWS about the unsafe working conditions being enforced by the Johnson government, private bus operators, Transport for London and London Labour Party Mayor Sadiq Khan, in collaboration with the unions.

North Dakota General Electric wind turbine plant closes as 128 people test positive for COVID-19

By Anthony Bertolt, 24 April 2020

An outbreak at a wind turbine plant in Grand Forks has led to a sharp spike in infections in the sparsely populated state.

“Back to work” campaign in the US will lead to surge in coronavirus deaths

By Joseph Kishore, 24 April 2020

The American ruling class is attempting to rapidly resume production and send workers back to work. If this policy is carried out, countless thousands more people will get gravely sick or die.

South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee reopening as coronavirus deaths mount

By Matthew MacEgan, 22 April 2020

The actions amount to a death sentence for thousands of working people, and particularly the elderly.

US health care workers protest government back-to-work demands

By Trévon Austin, 22 April 2020

Nurses countrywide are opposing the government’s bank-to-work demands and insisting they be provided with proper protective gear on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon shuts down French distribution centers after court requires protection of employees from coronavirus

By Will Morrow, 22 April 2020

The closure is a naked act of economic blackmail, using Amazon’s control over logistics infrastructure to sabotage the distribution of essential goods.

Beaumont Health lays off 2,500 and eliminates 450 jobs in Metro Detroit

By Kevin Reed, 22 April 2020

Michigan’s largest health care provider, Beaumont Health, announced the layoff of 2,475 employees and the permanent elimination of 450 positions at its Detroit-area facilities.

Death toll rises at veterans hospital in Massachusetts

By Julian James, 22 April 2020

Roughly 1-in-4 COVID-19 fatalities in the entire Veterans Affairs care system have taken place at a single facility in Massachusetts.

Germany: Opening Berlin schools risks the lives of teachers, pupils and their families

By Carola Kleinert and Andy Niklaus, 22 April 2020

“We must learn to live with the pandemic,” Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed.

As COVID-19 deaths pass 17,000, UK corporations scramble for bailout funds

By Robert Stevens, 22 April 2020

In what it described as a "conservative estimate", the Financial Times concluded that its analysis of official data reveals "The coronavirus pandemic has already caused as many as 41,000 deaths in the UK".

Thousands view online meeting of UK SEP outlining a socialist perspective on the pandemic

By our reporter, 22 April 2020

Around 500 viewers took part in the event with participants from Britain joined by others from Australia, Sri Lanka, Germany, France, Canada and the US—underscoring the international interest in the meeting.

US safety agencies bow to corporations as workers file record number of complaints

By Jessica Goldstein, 22 April 2020

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reportedly received 3,000 complaints related to the pandemic, with state agencies receiving many times more.

India: Modi government moves to “reopen” economy as virus cases surge

By Wasantha Rupasinghe and Keith Jones, 22 April 2020

Modi and big business have cynically sought to justify their push for a premature return to work by pointing to the desperate plight of hundreds of millions of day labourers.

Kazakhstan: Hospital workers demand resignation of government official over spread of COVID-19

By David Levine, 22 April 2020

Hospital workers demanded that the city’s chief public health officer, who accused medical workers of being responsible for the spread of the virus, be removed from office.

Australia’s national cabinet continues back-to-work push

By Oscar Grenfell, 22 April 2020

State governments are moving ahead with an easing of restrictions, including through the reopening of schools, creating the conditions for major coronavirus outbreaks.

Build rank-and-file committees at Amazon! For maximum safety, universal testing, and workers’ control of production!

Statement by the International Amazon Workers Voice, 22 April 2020

Amazon workers need organizations to fight, but the unions which are trying to “organize” them, have a long record of betraying the working class.

“They have our lives in their hands”

Amazon concealed COVID-19 case at Pennsylvania warehouse

By Samuel Davidson and Kayla Costa, 21 April 2020

With management demanding that production continue despite unsafe conditions, workers are now speaking out and organizing wildcat walkouts.

“We’re told there’s no money, but it’s raining money for the banks”

Quebec nurses expose shortages that enabled COVID-19 to ravage long-term care facilities

By our reporters, 21 April 2020

Nurses spoke out against the horrific conditions they and other health workers face in fighting the pandemic in long-term care facilities and insisted these are the product of decades of austerity.

Australia: Workers call out unsafe conditions at Tasmanian hospitals

By Martin Scott, 21 April 2020

Two more patients have died as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in the northwest of the state.

Amazon workers in Italy strike over coronavirus cover-up

Worker resistance grows internationally as governments push premature return to work

By Shannon Jones, 18 April 2020

The reckless drive by the Trump administration and governments in Europe to resume production despite health warnings will produce a social explosion.

Brazilian nurses strike over deadly conditions as COVID-19 deaths mount

By Tomas Castanheira, 18 April 2020

This week, after a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in Brazil, protests and work stoppage spread to hospitals and other health care units.

As US deaths soar, bipartisan back-to-work drive guarantees the explosive spread of pandemic

By Benjamin Mateus, 18 April 2020

Trump and the political establishment are seeking to enforce a return to work despite the warnings of medical experts that the US is nowhere near prepared to reopen safely.

Detroit-area hospitals slash jobs and close facilities to cut costs during COVID-19 crisis

By Kevin Reed, 18 April 2020

Corporate health care providers in the Detroit area are attempting to impose financial losses associated with the health crisis onto the working class.

Nurse who exposed conditions at Massachusetts nursing home dies from COVID-19

By Andrew Timon, 18 April 2020

Maria Krier’s death is another tragic outcome of the appalling conditions in nursing homes throughout New England and the US.

Seventeen bodies found piled in a New Jersey nursing home

By Erik Schreiber, 18 April 2020

This ghastly discovery is symptomatic of the disaster unfolding at nursing homes in the state, across the US and internationally.

UK government’s herd immunity policy denounced by leading scientist

By Robert Stevens, 18 April 2020

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives pursued a policy which envisaged the mass infection of tens of millions of people and the deaths of possibly hundreds of thousands.

Calls for early reopening of UK schools met with widespread opposition

By Tom Pearce, 18 April 2020

The plan is for primary schools to start reopening in a “regionalised approach,” despite reports of three teacher deaths from COVID-19.

German automakers, unions and government collaborate to restart production

By Dietmar Gaisenkersting, 18 April 2020

Germany’s automakers and the IG Metall trade union are demanding that production be restarted.

Big business representatives defend hospital closures in Germany

By Markus Salzmann, 18 April 2020

Economist Boris Augurzky claims that there are too many hospitals, and has called for the crisis to be used to further reduce the number of facilities.

Ukrainian capital Kiev engulfed in smog from wildfires near Chernobyl

By Jason Melanovski and Clara Weiss, 18 April 2020

The fires expose the fact that the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe remains unresolved and continues to threaten the health of the population.

Sri Lanka: Oppose return to work in unsafe pandemic conditions! No to job destruction!

By the Socialist Equality Party (Sri Lanka), 18 April 2020

The criminal actions of the Rajapakse government and big business will accelerate the spread of the deadly virus and lead to a further loss of workers’ lives.

Australian ruling elite seizes on pandemic to demand harsh economic restructuring

By Mike Head, 18 April 2020

Governments and big business are using the COVID-19 crisis to accelerate the decades-long assault on social spending and workers’ jobs, wages and conditions.

Authorities seeking to force coronavirus-stricken ship out of Australian waters

By Martin Scott, 18 April 2020

More than 160 Ruby Princess crew members have tested positive for COVID-19, but most of the 1,056 workers are being refused the right to leave the ship.

New Zealand businesses, media call for lifting of lockdown measures

By John Braddock, 18 April 2020

Sections of NZ’s business elite are demanding an end to the month-long COVID-19 lockdown and for working people to risk their lives to defend the capitalist economy.

Trump administration’s “back to work” drive will fuel pandemic

By Bryan Dyne and Andre Damon, 17 April 2020

Trump’s plan is not conceived from the standpoint of public health, but to ensure that major corporations are allowed to get back to the business of squeezing profits out of workers as quickly as possible.

European states demand return to work as COVID-19 cases top 1 million

By Johannes Stern and Alex Lantier, 17 April 2020

By preparing to order workers back to work amid a raging pandemic, European governments are risking the lives of millions of workers and those close to them.

Munich tram drivers speak out on dangerous conditions during coronavirus pandemic

By our reporters, 16 April 2020

Reports from two tram drivers illustrate the irresponsible actions of the MVG management putting workers at increased risk of infection and death.

COVID-19 deaths break US record as virus spreads through every state

By Benjamin Mateus, 15 April 2020

Over 2,300 people died from COVID-19 in the United States Tuesday, in the highest recorded daily death toll of any country.

As pandemic deaths continue to rise

Trump calls on states to move quickly to reopen their economies

By Barry Grey, 15 April 2020

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday congratulated both Trump and the Democratic governors for moving to lift the restrictions on profit-making.

COVID-19 devastating the elderly at nursing homes across the US

By Kevin Reed, 15 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has exploded in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, exposing the catastrophic circumstances facing large numbers of elderly working class people.

German National Academy of Sciences demands reopening of primary schools

By Peter Schwarz, 15 April 2020

The call for human life to be weighed against economic value runs through the statement from start to finish.

A letter from a concerned UK nurse to the WSWS

15 April 2020

“I urge employees not to be silenced by ruthless and reckless employers and to stand together and speak out.”

Deaths continue to soar as European governments step up back-to-work plans

By Alice Summers, 15 April 2020

Another 27,531 Covid-19 cases in Europe were reported Tuesday, bringing the total to nearly one million.

Greek medical workers demand funds to combat coronavirus pandemic

By John Vassilopoulos, 15 April 2020

Greece only had 560 intensive care unit beds as the pandemic began, 6 per 1 million inhabitants compared to 29.2 in Germany.

Germany: Hesse politicians and employers expose workers to risk of COVID-19 infection

By Marianne Arens, 15 April 2020

Refuse workers report how they are given no protection and are expected to travel home in their dirty overalls.

Modi extends India’s coronavirus lockdown till May 3

By Wasantha Rupasinghe and Keith Jones, 15 April 2020

Modi offered no plan to deal either with the health emergency or the socio-economic calamity triggered by the sudden, unplanned lockdown.

Coronavirus exposes Chilean two-tiered health system as deathtrap

By Mauricio Saavedra, 15 April 2020

It is the policy of sustained socio-economic shock therapy initiated under Pinochet that lay the groundwork for incalculable loss of life today

Garment workers protest in Bangladesh as COVID-19 spreads

By Wimal Perera, 15 April 2020

Employers have shuttered the plants, sacking thousands of workers and refusing to pay outstanding wages.

With anger mounting over pandemic response, unions make pitch to save American capitalism

By Jerry White, 15 April 2020

In a joint comment published by USA Today, the leaders of four major unions urge corporate America to use their services to “restore profits and economic growth.”

Spanish workers furious as unions support “back to work” in COVID-19 pandemic

By Alejandro López, 14 April 2020

Working class anger is rising against the Socialist Party-Podemos government, which forced millions of non-essential workers back to work yesterday

UK NHS workers speak to the WSWS: “Is it worth clapping the NHS without ensuring the safety of frontline workers?”

By our reporters, 14 April 2020

Several NHS workers have contacted the WSWS following the attacks by Conservative Health Minister Matt Hancock, who accused NHS staff of wasting personal protective equipment resources.

Transit agencies and governments continue to expose workers and riders to coronavirus pandemic internationally

By Sam Dalton, 14 April 2020

Transit workers are both dying from and increasingly rebelling against the withholding of adequate safety measures by the transit agencies and state officials.

“This is forced labor”: Six GM workers stricken with COVID-19 at parts warehouse

By Sheila Brehm, 11 April 2020

While GM assembly plants remain shut, the company's Burton, Michigan parts warehouse is operating with 200 “volunteers.”

The COVID-19 crisis in New York City

Nurses at Elmhurst Hospital speak out: “I’ve never seen so many young people die”

By Clara Weiss, 9 April 2020

With hundreds of COVID patients, the hospital is running low on PPE, medication, ventilators and staff.

Police in Pakistan beat and arrest health care workers protesting over Coronavirus safety concerns, lack of PPE

By Dr. Zayar, 9 April 2020

Police brutally attacked several hundred medical staff after they marched to the house of the Balochistan Chief Minister in Quetta to protest the lack of personal protective equipment or PPE.

Alberta doctors protest UCP government’s funding cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

By Janet Browning, 9 April 2020

More than 800 doctors signed an angry open letter to the hard-right United Conservative Party government protesting cuts to doctors’ fees that will result in reduced services at hundreds of rural clinics across the province.

World Health Organization warns against premature ending of social distancing measures

By Bryan Dyne, 8 April 2020

The warnings come as the number of deaths worldwide approaches 82,000 and the number of officially confirmed cases burst past 1.4 million.

US automakers planning return to work before coronavirus danger subsides

By Tom Hall and Jessica Goldstein, 8 April 2020

Automakers are planning a return to work that would endanger workers and their families.

Worker revolt spreads, demanding protections from coronavirus

By Marcus Day, 8 April 2020

Expanding layers of the working class throughout the world are being drawn into the struggle for lifesaving necessities.

British prime minister: A victim of his “herd immunity” policy

By Robert Stevens, 8 April 2020

Whatever Johnson’s personal fate, the herd immunity policy that landed him seriously ill in hospital has already contributed to many infections and thousands of deaths nationwide.

Postal workers at four UK depots take unofficial strike action over lack of safety measures

By Paul Lee, 8 April 2020

Weeks into the pandemic, postal workers are still not able to social distance and have a lack of personal protection equipment when out delivering mail.

New York records worst death toll in pandemic, as 731 die in one day

By Josh Varlin, 8 April 2020

The official figures must be considered substantial underestimates, since there has been a reported surge in people dying in their homes, rather than in hospital.

”She called me and said, ‘Mommy, I can barely breathe.’”

Grocery worker dies from COVID-19 infection in suburban Maryland

By Nick Barrickman, 8 April 2020

Grocery workers have been increasingly falling ill as the coronavirus spreads through the population.

UK: Health workers threatened for wearing PPE and reporting danger to their lives

By Tony Robson, 8 April 2020

The threats to health workers have been particularly directed at any use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

Thai government introduces lockdowns amid criticisms of its pandemic response

By Owen Howell, 8 April 2020

Within a month, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand has leapt from a few dozen to over 2,000.

OSHA issues citations to those responsible for New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse

By Aaron Murch, 8 April 2020

There have been no arrests so far, for the disaster which killed three workers, while city building inspectors who were found negligent have been allowed to retire.

999 Australia: Labor and the unions and COVID-19

8 April 2020

Scottish care workers speak out against conditions and treatment during COVID-19 crisis

By Darren Paxton, 7 April 2020

Front line health and social care workers from the Scottish Highlands spoke to the WSWS about the conditions they are facing.

Mounting coronavirus death toll in Canada’s elderly care homes

By Penny Smith, 7 April 2020

COVID-19 cases have been reported from over 600 nursing and retirement homes nationwide, with Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia hardest hit

BREAKING NEWS

Detroit nurses forced to leave hospital after protesting understaffing

By Evan Blake, 6 April 2020

At around midnight Monday morning, seven night shift nurses at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit were sent home after refusing to work in unsafe, understaffed conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Ford, FCA workers die from COVID-19 in Detroit area

By Tim Rivers and Marcus Day, 3 April 2020

The workers were hourly employees at Ford’s Livonia Transmission Plant and FCA’s MOPAR parts distribution center in Center Line.

Coronavirus deaths in US nearing 4,000 as Trump washes his hands of responsibility

By Benjamin Mateus and Patrick Martin, 1 April 2020

More than 800 people died Tuesday of COVID-19 in the United States, the highest death toll so far, with nearly 25,000 new cases.

Amazon, Whole Foods, and Instacart workers strike against hazardous conditions

By Shuvu Batta, 1 April 2020

Gig economy workers are entering into struggle against dangerous working conditions that threaten a wider spread of the pandemic.

Detroit Amazon workers strike to demand COVID-19 protection

By Jerry White, 1 April 2020

Amazon workers at the Detroit area DTW1 facility walked out Wednesday to demand the closure and sanitizing of the warehouse after a third worker tested positive for COVID-19.

Ukraine passes IMF-backed land reform bill, social cuts as coronavirus spreads

By Jason Melanovski, 1 April 2020

The policies of the Zelensky government threaten the working class with a social and medical disaster of immense proportions.

Covid-19 pandemic poses gravest threat to world’s poorest countries

By Jean Shaoul, 1 April 2020

Hundreds of millions of people across the globe live in homes that were detrimental to their health and safety even before the onset of the coronavirus.

UK warehouse and distribution workers protest exposure to COVID -19

By Tony Robson and Dan Richardson, 1 April 2020

Britain’s new “Satanic Mills” are a byword for low pay, casualisation and sweat shop conditions, which have only worsened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada’s governments exempt sections of industry from lockdowns, imperilling workers’ lives

By Roger Jordan, 1 April 2020

Placing profits before workers’ lives, Ontario and Quebec have declared businesses “essential” that have nothing to do with providing healthcare, food, power or other life necessities.

Sri Lankan SEP to hold online event: “COVID-19 pandemic and capitalist barbarism”

1 April 2020

The event will be live-streamed through the SEP’s official Facebook page.

“A lot of people don't get a ventilator when they come to a hospital now, no matter how young they are”

New York City paramedic speaks out about dire conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic

By Clara Weiss, 31 March 2020

New York is now the center of the pandemic. As of Monday night, 1,342 people have died and 67,325 have tested positive. Over 36,000 of the infected are in New York City.

“We cannot abandon the nurses”

Nurse suicides rise in Europe amid stress of COVID-19 pandemic

By Allison Smith, 31 March 2020

Last week, 34-year-old nurse Daniella Trezzi, who worked in the COVID-19 intensive care ward of San Gerardo hospital at Monza, near Milan, committed suicide.

Australian warehouse workers strike over COVID-19 safety demands

By Patrick O’Connor, 31 March 2020

The strike lasted several hours, only ending after management promised to improve social distancing and sanitising.

Support the striking Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods workers!

By Jerry White, 31 March 2020

With their work becoming ever more essential, grocery and delivery workers are fighting to protect themselves and those they serve from the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Europe’s coronavirus death toll passes 10,000

By Robert Stevens, 24 March 2020

The coronavirus crisis has exposed how Europe’s health and social care services face collapse after decades of being underfunded, privatised and de-staffed.

UK: NHS frontline staff and patients at risk through government negligence over pandemic

By Tony Robson, 24 March 2020

NHS doctors and nurses have been battling against the government’s refusal to provide testing and adequate Personal Protective Equipment.

Germany: Appalling lack of protective equipment in COVID-19 outbreak

By Markus Salzmann, 24 March 2020

It is still virtually impossible to be tested for the life-threatening virus and there is a lack of protective marks and other urgently needed equipment for health care workers.

US soon to pass Italy and China in coronavirus cases

By Benjamin Mateus, 24 March 2020

The total number infected in the United States is approaching 50,000, with nearly 600 dead.

The quiet before the surge: US physicians speak on the COVID-19 pandemic

By Benjamin Mateus, 24 March 2020

The WSWS spoke to three physicians as the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate in the United States.

Palestinians face humanitarian catastrophe from coronavirus

By Jean Shaoul, 24 March 2020

This foreseeable and foreseen disaster comes after Israel’s 13-year-long siege that has rendered Gaza almost uninhabitable.

Boeing closes Seattle-area plants after worker’s coronavirus death

By Hector Cordon, 24 March 2020

Two weeks after the first emergence of a coronavirus infection in its Everett, Washington, plant, Boeing has shut down production in the region.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ message to warehouse workers: Keep working despite coronavirus threat

By Nick Barrickman, 24 March 2020

After strikes by US and European Amazon workers over the danger to their health, the company’s billionaire CEO feigned concern while insisting that workers keep pumping out profits.

Under pressure from online protests over coronavirus concerns, GameStop shutters California stores

By Luke Galvin, 24 March 2020

The half-measure concessions, which went into effect Sunday, also included keeping stores in the rest of the United States operating with “delivery-to-door” service.

120 DC hospitals and coronavirus

24 March 2020

Florida residents on COVID-19 pandemic: “There is no way we can go longer than a month at this rate.”

By Matthew MacEgan, 24 March 2020

Workers and students spoke with the WSWS about lack of supplies, limited testing, and growing concerns over the economic, social, and health impact on their families and friends.

COVID-19 hits Nevada: Catastrophic job losses coupled with woefully inadequate health care infrastructure

By Jacob Crosse, 24 March 2020

Hundreds of thousands of workers have been laid off and Nevada’s sparse health care infrastructure is buckling as community spread of coronavirus takes hold.

US officials use economic fallout from pandemic to slash school funding

By Phyllis Steele and Jerry White, 24 March 2020

Even as school districts deliver free meals to millions of low-income students, state governments have already begun slashing school spending and reneging on promised pay raises to teachers.

Risk of wider outbreak of COVID-19 remains high in South Korea

By Ben McGrath, 24 March 2020

Workers are being kept on the job, exposing themselves and their communities to greater risks.