A collection of quotes on the themes of labour, Covid-19, and capitalism.
“Right now when we are under lockdown, nobody is saying, ‘We need stockbrokers and investment bankers! Let’s keep those services open!’ They are saying, ‘Let’s keep nurses working, cleaners working, garbage removal services open, food production ongoing.”
“…Barbara Birchenough, sixty-five, worked at the Clara Maass Medical Center in New Jersey as a nurse. On March 25, she texted her daughter, The ICU nurses were making gowns out of garbage bags. Dad is going to pick up large garbage bags for me just in case. Later that day, she texted again to note that she had a cough and a headache and that she had been exposed to six patients who had tested positive for COVID-19. Please pray for all health care workers, she texted her daughter, we are running out of supplies. By April 15, she was dead from the disease.”
“We’re not getting nothing … no cleanliness, no extra pay — no nothing. We’re up here risking our life for chicken.”
– Kendilyn Granville, line worker at a chicken plant, Georgia.
“In recent weeks, lists have been published all over the world of what we’ve started calling ‘essential workers.’ And surprise: jobs like ‘hedge fund manager’ and ‘multinational tax consultant’ appear nowhere on those lists. All of a sudden, it has become crystal clear who’s doing the truly important work in care and in education, in public transit and in grocery stores.”
– Rutger Bregman.
“In the worst night we had three deaths. Two were five minutes apart. There were two funeral homes outside with body bags. It was like a war zone. So why did we have to fight so hard (for PPE)?”
– long-term care home nurse in Ontario, March 2021.
“If history shows us one thing, it’s that rich people and politicians do not want to pay for sewers, schools, hospitals, old age pensions or worker safety.”
– Ellen Amster.
“People reported they get into their car at the end of their shift, and they cry. They’re not crying for themselves because they were hit or insulted. They’re crying because they feel badly. They feel like they’re doing a shitty job. They’re not. They’re doing their best. But it’s an impossible task to provide care in an environment where there’s almost no staff.”
– Michael Hurley
“Wealth, it turns out, is the best shielding strategy from Covid-19.”
– Dr. Devi Sridhar
“All of sudden, we went from being essential to being sacrificial, all for the sake of the bottom line.”
– Clerk at Giant Food, Washington, D.C.
“It’s become very clear to me what a socioeconomic disease this is. People hear that term ‘essential workers.’ Short-order cooks, doormen, cleaners, deli workers—that is the patient population here. Other people were at home, but my patients were still working. A few weeks ago, when they were told to socially isolate, they still had to go back to an apartment with ten other people. Now they are in our cardiac room dying.”
– Dr. Hashem Zikry, New York City.
“In May 2020, as Boris Johnson and his wife attended a ‘work event’ where people were invited to bring alcohol, I was using alcohol of another kind. On my hands. They were raw, blistered and painful, but at least alcohol gel sterilises hands in between the constant flow of patients. Then there was my mask, which cut ridges so deep into my face they became sores.”
– Saleyha Ahsan
“The homeless are still homeless, care workers lack sufficient PPE, the old and poor are dying, but very few bankers are getting ill.”
– Tim Heffernan, Simon Schweitzer and Bill Hopwood
“In the words of Melbourne-based journalist Luke Henriques-Gomes, “If the slogan of 2020 is ‘We’re all in this together’, perhaps it should come with an asterisk: *except for those with less, who are hurting more.”
– Luke Henriques-Gomes.
“Right now, Amazon is a dictatorship within a democracy. Someday the democracy may wither, leaving only the dictatorship.”
– Nathan Robinson.
“As one capitalist shibboleth after another was swept aside – ceilings on fiscal deficits, the lack of funds for improving employment insurance, the impracticality of conversion of closing factories, the glorification of corporate pursuit of profits over all else, the devaluation of workers who clean our hospitals and care for the aged – surely we were ripe for radical change?”
– Sam Gindin
“Driven by the pursuit of unlimited production and consumption, the liberal ideal of freedom has become detached from the moral traditions that constrained mere licence.”
– Jonathan Rutherford
 Utsa Sarmin, “Hunger, Humiliation, and Death: Perils of Migrant Workers in the Time of COVID-19,” pp. 48-55, in Samaddar Ranabir, ed., Borders of an Epidemic: Covid-19 and Migrant Workers (Kolkata: Calcutta Research Group, 2020), 55.
 Nicholas A. Christakis, Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live (New York, Boston and London: Little, Brown Spark, 2020), 223.
 Cited, Moira Welsh, “The saw suffering and death and braved COVID-19 in long-term-care homes. Ontario nurses recount the horrors of the frontlines that left many with PTSD symptoms,” Toronto Star, 20 March 2021, Link to source.
 Cited, Molly Kinder, Laura Stateler, and Julia Du, Windfall Profits and Daily Risks: How the biggest retail companies are compensating essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Brookings Institute, Brief, November 2020, Link to source.