US PRESIDENT Donald Trump is seeking a scapegoat for the inevitable deaths of millions of people following a forced return to work while the coronavirus pandemic still rages.
In an increasingly desperate attempt to place the blame for the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 245,000 people worldwide so far, the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Sunday claimed that there is ‘enormous evidence’ that the coronavirus outbreak came from a Chinese laboratory.
Pompeo ramped up the attack on China by saying that ‘the best experts so far seem to think it was man-made. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.’
Last Thursday, Trump claimed he had secret knowledge that the pandemic began in a Chinese lab but he was not permitted to tell anyone what this evidence was.
In fact, every scientist who has studied the coronavirus agrees that it is not man-made or genetically modified – a view that is even supported by US intelligence.
But the need to place the blame on China has become an absolute imperative for Trump as he ruthlessly drives to reopen US capitalism by forcing workers back to work in unsafe, unprotected conditions that will cost them their lives.
Last week, Trump issued an executive order for meatpacking plants across the country to stay open or reopen despite the fact that these plants have become notorious as a breeding ground for Covid-19.
Across America meatpacking plants have been closing as workers fall ill with Covid-19 or die.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union has said that at least 72 of its members have died from coronavirus, with 5,000 meatpackers testing positive for the disease.
In making this order, Trump invoked the Defence Production Act and ordered meatpacking plants to stay open no matter what the cost. Plants won’t even close for a deep cleaning when workers go down with the virus.
In the US, just a handful of giant meat companies account for the vast majority of the nation’s meat supplies and, while forcing workers to return, Trump made it clear that these powerful companies would be legally exempt from claims of negligence and breaches of health and safety laws.
Last Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly waived enforcement on a range of legally mandated public health and environmental protections, saying industries could have trouble complying with them during the coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, Trump is pushing Congress to introduce legislation that will protect all US corporations from lawsuits brought by workers claiming negligence for not providing protection from coronavirus.
Workers will be forced to return to work or face being thrown on the scrapheap and denied even any unemployment benefit.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said in a statement: ‘We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products.’
Wishing for Trump and the bosses to show more care for the working class is whistling in the wind, capitalism doesn’t care if workers die in their millions as long as the profits keep coming in.
The way forward for not just meatpackers but the working class in the US and indeed across the world, has been demonstrated by thousands of nursing home workers in Chicago who are going on strike this Friday.
The strike has been called by their union, SEIU Healthcare, which represents over 10,000 workers at 100 nursing homes in Illinois, over a demand for a pay increase to $15 an hour plus hazard pay for working during the pandemic. They are also demanding more personal protective equipment.
Greg Kelly, president of the union, said that his members are not willing to die for minimum wages.
The lead shown by these nursing home workers in the US must be taken up by workers across the world.
They must demand that the unions organise strike action to defend workers from being stampeded back to work by going forward to expropriating the bosses and bankers, placing them under the management of the working class, and bringing in socialism.