As we look forward to the new year, 2021, some of our older members may recall the words of Queen Elizabeth, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure... it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'.” Well, if 1992 was a bad year for the Queen, every one of us in Britain - and virtually everywhere else on earth - could say that of this past year, 2020.
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s attempts to deal with it will affect the pay and conditions of British workers for years to come. The signs are not good for job security. Many jobs may go in a tidal wave of redundancies as the government's furlough scheme ends in March. Unscrupulous employers may take advantage of the pandemic and its aftermath to undermine and undercut their employees’ pay and conditions. Large companies like British Airways and British Gas are already trying to get away with mass dismissals of employees only to rehire them on worse pay with fewer holidays and rights.
One good thing about 2020 is that it has given us all the opportunity to reassess what is valuable to us in a year when nothing could be taken for granted. We discovered that the valuable key workers are not the ‘masters of the universe’; the bankers, the hedge fund managers, the overpaid CEOs but the humble bus, truck and train drivers, the shop workers, NHS doctors and nurses and support staff, care-home workers, transport and logistics workers and cleaners. Key workers welcome that recognition, but they don’t just want applause, they want decent pay and conditions. They are the people who have kept the country moving in 2020.
There’s no doubt that workers in 2021 and succeeding years will need to organise to protect their rights. Solidarity has a good track record of standing up for its members’ rights. We urge our members to renew their subscriptions in the coming new year and to recruit their friends and workmates to our ranks. Happy New Year. Solidarity forever!