Letter: Don’t Leave Some Jobs Behind

Letter published in Solidarity 567:

The editorial of Solidarity 566 rightly called for a big expansion of public-sector jobs to tackle the Covid-related economic crisis, through both the creation of new jobs in existing public services and through nationalizing corporations that threaten job cuts.

However, there are many worthwhile jobs outside the public sector, not easily nationalised. Unless we are arguing that absolutely everything is brought into public ownership (which the article doesn’t), then the unavoidable implication is that if your private-sector job is under threat, we’re not going to fight to save it, we just think you should be retrained for a decent public-sector job instead.

That might be fine for a minimum-wage barista who now gets to be a teaching assistant. But what about a skilled worker in their chosen career? What about a chef? or architect? or plumber? or fashion designer? or journalist? or footballer? or painter and decorator? What about people who don’t work for “corporations” but whose jobs are under threat? It doesn’t seem right to me to suggest that if they can’t be nationalised, then we allow their career to go down the pan, safe in the knowledge that they will be retrained to work in a hospital.

Given the photograph of the Tate galleries strikers on the cover, it was ironic that Solidarity’s editorial did not mention arts and culture jobs. Many of them are in the public sector – museums, libraries, etc. – and you could take that to be covered by the article’s call for the expansion of public service jobs. But many of them are not. What does Solidarity have to say to musicians, writers, actors, sound engineers and other venue staff?

Janine Booth

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