Queen’s University now joins Glasgow and Manchester in locking down halls of residence due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Within the first week of the university term, 30 students in Elms Village in south Belfast have tested positive for the virus. Fears of rising infection rates and the limitations of health and safety measures have been ignored by management in favour of forcing lecturers, support staff and students to participate in in-person classes without a uniform policy of sanitisation, mask-wearing and social distancing.
The most glaring of these contradictions is that, while we can no longer visit friends and family in their homes, we can meet them in a cafe, pub or anywhere else there is a till, alongside countless other people. Meanwhile, most of us are in close proximity with others in workplaces, schools and on public transport on a daily basis.
It’s not new that people feel that society is being run in interests other than their own. Historically, recognition of this fact – that bosses and the rich dictate what happens in our lives, even in supposedly democratic societies – is why working-class people organised in trade unions and workers parties to fight for their own interests.
Last week, we were told Diane Dodds and the Stormont Executive were urging all civil servants to return to their offices, in order to boost city and town centre economies. This is the latest example of Stormont putting profit before workers’ health.