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Anti-austerity campaigners demand government protect workers and the vulnerable from coronavirus

The People’s Assembly published a list of demands, including extending statutory sick pay to all workers and rent freezes

CAMPAIGNERS demanded today that the government immediately puts safeguards in place to protect precarious workers and vulnerable people from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Anti-austerity group the People’s Assembly published a list of demands, including extending statutory sick pay to all workers and rent freezes. 

The group accused the Tories of “refusing to act” to contain the virus and protect vulnerable people.

This has left trade unions, civil society and ordinary citizens to “take matters into their own hands,” the group said.

“We reject the ‘herd immunity’ theory that coronavirus can simply be left to rip through society until enough people develop immunity,” the People’s Assembly said in a statement, referring to the government’s suggestion on Friday to manage the spread of the virus so people build an immunity to it. 

“Not only is there no proof this will happen with this virus, it is the most deadly and careless approach the government could take.

“The government should be acting on World Health Organisation guidance and learning from those countries it commends for swift and decisive action.

“Older and vulnerable people matter as much as everyone else.”

Instead, the government should impose more stringent measures, including closing down schools, universities and colleges, the group said. 

The People’s Assembly also proposed safeguards for workers on zero-hours contracts who could face weeks without pay if they become sick or their work is forced to shut.

As a result the group is demanding sick pay be extended to all workers and increased to the living wage. 

Mortgage payments and rent should be frozen to those denied their full pay and pensioners given one-off grants for food, travel and fuel. 

People on benefits should also be spared sanctions for missing appointments and the assessment period for universal credit scrapped. 

The calls follow Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s list of demands in a letter to the PM urging the need for emergency packages to vulnerable people. 

He said: “I've written to Boris Johnson calling for emergency support for people affected by the coronavirus epidemic, including rent deferrals and mortgage holidays, higher statutory sick pay from day one, and income protection for insecure, low-paid and self-employed workers.”


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