Serco boasts of massive profits out of failed test and trace contract

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OFFICIAL figures released last week revealed the total collapse of the Tories’ Test and Trace programme run by private companies.

Analysis of these figures show that the private firms Serco and Sitel failed to contact nearly a quarter of a million people who had been in contact with those tested positive for coronavirus in England – whether on-line or from call centres.

These firms missed nearly 40% of contacts.

In the hard-hit North-West of England more than 26,000 people in the week up to 7th October hadn’t been contacted.

The Test and Trace system has cost £12 billion and was hailed by PM Boris Johnson as ‘world beating’ when launched last May.

What has been world beating are the profits made by Serco, which announced last week that it expects profits to ‘exceed expectations’ in 2020 by £25 million as a direct result of the Tories’ extending its contract to operate Test and Trace sites and provide call handlers.

Serco bosses boasted that this massive handout of public money for a system that doesn’t work was ‘an indication of our customers’ satisfaction with the quality of work we have delivered.’

The same chaotic failure dominates the Lighthouse Labs – the seven ‘super labs’ set up specifically to test for coronavirus and managed by a partnership between private companies such as the multi-national pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

All these super labs are in crisis, with official figures for the Glasgow lab (run by the pharmaceutical company BioAscent) recording only a third of positive cases interviewed by contact tracers in the 24 hours after their test.

These Lighthouse Labs, despite being referred to as part of the NHS Test and Trace system, are exclusively managed and run by private companies.

Their failures contrast dramatically with NHS labs which in Scotland can process coronavirus tests in 27 hours on average.

Calls by Scottish politicians for the Lighthouse Labs to be integrated into the NHS labs have proved impossible as the privately run Lighthouse Labs use completely different equipment that is incompatible with NHS testing kits.

In the drive to not just compete but smash the NHS, the privateers and Tories have presided over a monumental failure to protect life while at the same time guaranteeing vast profits for the likes of Serco.

The GMB union, which represents some Serco workers, called on the Tories to step in and take Test and Trace away from private companies.

Rehana Azam, GMB’s national secretary, said: ‘We need a real public interest track-and-trace system, run by the local authorities who know their areas best, with full funding – not a malfunctioning scheme that lines the pockets of shareholders.’

Calling for the Tories to stop lining the pockets of shareholders is a waste of time.

The issue for the working class is not to beg the Tories but to put an end to them and the entire capitalist system they represent – a system that pursues profit at all costs including the cost of millions of workers’ lives.

This can be clearly seen in the case of China, which yesterday revealed its economy grew by 4.9% between July and September making it the first major economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The reopening of the Chinese economy, at a time when the economy of the UK collapsed by 20%, follows the country going for almost two months without any new locally transmitted cases of coronavirus.

China, a deformed workers’ state, has beaten the virus by, from the very start, adopting a policy of total lockdown with workers receiving their full wages and being supplied with food and healthcare.

The only way for the working class to go forward and defend their jobs, along with defeating the coronavirus sweeping the country, is to remove those union leaders who just plead with the Tories and replace them with a new revolutionary leadership.

This revolutionary leadership will mobilise the full strength of the trade unions in a general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers’ government and socialism.

Only by overthrowing capitalism, that places profit above human life, can the coronavirus pandemic be defeated and a future assured for workers.