Published On: Tue, Jun 2nd, 2020

Belly Mujinga death: Only organised workers can guarantee safe conditions

News broke on 12 May that Belly Mujinga, a railway worker at Victoria Station in London, had died from COVID-19.

Mujinga had died on 5 April after reportedly being spat on and coughed at a week earlier by a man who claimed to have coronavirus. And yet, two months after the attack, it emerged that British Transport Police would be taking no further action, as the perpetrator had a negative antibody test.

In light of the rapidly resurgent #BlackLivesMatter movement, following the murder of George Floyd, the announcement that not a single charge will be brought in this case has provoked a huge backlash.

The fact is, regardless of whether or not the attack led to her death, Belly Mujinga was assaulted while trying to do her job. And yet British Transport Police have not taken a single step to reprimand her attacker.

This is a slap in the face for key workers – a disproportionate number of whom are BAME individuals. It is the bosses and the capitalist state saying: “Your lives don’t matter to us.”

This disregard of ‘key workers’ is only underscored by British Transport Police letting Victoria Station management off without even a slap on the wrist, for failing to provide safe working conditions.

Having a respiratory illness, Belly Mujinga knew she was in an at risk group. She should have been allowed to self-isolate in order to protect herself. But her bosses’ profits took precedent.

Worse still, management at Victoria Station reportedly failed to make any changes to safety measures between the attack happening and the story of Belly Mujinga’s death becoming national news. This again sends the same message of contempt to key workers.

The negligence and malpractice of Victoria Station – owned and managed by Network Rail – has not been lost on the public. The station’s management have rightly been slammed.

However, there are clear lessons to be taken from the cases of George Floyd and Belly Mujinga – and from the hundreds and thousands of other BAME lives lost at the hands of the police, of callous employers, and of coronavirus. We cannot rely on the capitalist state or the bosses to protect the lives of workers: we must organise to protect ourselves.

We will only have safe working conditions when organised workers themselves run and control workplaces. Only in this way can safety measures be introduced – on the basis of need, and without any regard to their effects on profits.

Similarly, the police – whose real role under capitalism is to protect the property of the bosses – will never defend workers. We must do away with the police, the whole repressive, racist state apparatus, and the rotten capitalist system. This is the only way to ensure workers like Belly Mujinga receive justice.

Socialist Appeal

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