For those not in the know, Clap for Carers (Now known as, ‘Clap for Key Workers’) is a recurring event every Thursday 8PM in the UK during the Coronavirus Pandemic. People go outside and clap for a minute or two, whilst others play music or bang on pots and pans. The intention is to show appreciation for the key workers in this country.
Whilst I appreciate the sentiment of this - I do think that these people should be appreciated and rewarded - I hate it in practice.
Here is the UK government’s official list of key workers:
- Health and social care
- Education and child care
- Key public service
- Local and national government
- Food and other necessary goods
- Public safety and national security
- Utilities, communication, and financial services
The reason these people are classified as ‘key workers’ is because they are essential for the smooth running of our society, or to keep us safe, or to keep us healthy. The reason that they were asked to work whilst everyone else wasn’t was because our society can’t function without them.
Presently, they are risking their health to ensure that our society continues, so our society has collectively decided to recognize this by clapping for them. Yep, that’s their reward; clapping.
Let me restate for emphasis: These people are essential for our civilization. Some of them will die. The only recognition and reward for them is clapping once per week.
They are not normally appreciated en mass in normal times. But these people are essential for our civilisation! They should be millionaires! We can live without actors, footballers, investment bankers, etc. We can’t live without the little people. But people continue to vote for governments who don’t care about those people.
In fact, many of our key workers would be considered unskilled workers and would be denied a visa (unless they were on a job-shortage list). So not only are the people essential to our civilisation, but our government (voted for by our people) is essentially saying that if they weren’t already here, we wouldn’t want them.
The most important of our institutions - the NHS - has consistently been underfunded by the current government. Nurses and doctors had their pay frozen. The NHS has been used as a bargaining chip to encourage the public to vote for things like Brexit, and you can be sure that it’s disbandment will be on the terms of any future trade deal with the USA.
What really grinds me gears about ‘Clap For Our Key Workers’ is that it’s a virtue signal more than anything. If people really wanted to show their appreciation to these key workers - and not just virtue signal - why aren’t they voting for governments who would raise the minimum wage, give extra protection to workers, and properly fund our national services?
Our key workers should be rewarded by more than just a short bout of clapping once a week.
I worry that after this pandemic, things will get worse for our health service (and other key workers) because of additional austerity measures.
Oh, and I also find it ironic that after this weekly clapping event, I have observed neighbours meeting in the street to have a chat. So it’s inevitably going to cause at least a little bit more transmission.
Now, I’ll repeat to you a story my mother told me that goes contrary to my rant about the clapping for key workers.
My mother went to the hospital (for issues unrelated to COVID-19) shortly after one of the first ‘Clap For Carers’ events. She told me that a staff member who had examined her had been very upset on that night, because they live very close to the hospital yet nobody was clapping on their street. They felt that the public didn’t care about them.
There are two ways to view this story:
- It’s sad that the nobody on that person’s street clapped. This is the angle that my mother was going for when she told me the story.
- Some key workers will live on streets where nobody claps across the country, so the ‘Clap For Carers’ movement is actually making those people feel worse because it seems like their neighbors don’t care about them. This wouldn’t happen without the event.
If I were to spread these opinions more widely than this kooky little blog that few read, I would undoubtedly receive a lot of hate for my perspective.
My point is this:
Our essential workers should be rewarded. NHS staff should not have their pay frozen.
It’s hypocritical for a government to specify which workers are essential, yet not reward them as such.