As well as medical professionals, we have become acutely aware of the importance of delivery drivers, warehouse workers and farmers in recent weeks. And of manufacturers: people in factories who make things – often in trying conditions – that keep our demands satiated and our economies moving. We rely on them to get food on our tables, cars on our roads and clothes on our backs – and, at the moment, to provide medical equipment for our hospitals.
Could this be a bright spot to come out of this dark moment? A long-overdue acknowledgement of the role of textile weavers in India, hi-tech phone manufacturers in China, car-parts assemblers in Germany and the makers of clothes in Italy? The pandemic has made us aware of the fragility of supply chains – and the world’s reliance on Chinese production. In its wake, there could well be a reassessment of how we manufacture. Many companies will decide that it is important to produce closer to home, where possible, in order to avoid logistical complications should another outbreak occur. Let’s hope that there will also be a newfound emphasis on the value of factory workers; they should not be in the shadows any longer.