The Covid-19 global pandemic has changed everything. Four short months ago we had workers who worked in viable businesses, now laid off on furlough with an uncertain future.
We have also seen just who the essential workers are in our economy and society in recent times but the harsh reality is that many of these essential workers have been under-valued both socially and economically.
The crisis has created the space and the opportunity for us to reset, to consider how we want our society and economy to change and improve.
From the trade union perspective there can be no going back to our under resourced public services and long health waiting lists; to cuts in education; to insecure work and precarious work whereby Northern Ireland has the awful stigma of having the highest proportion of workers in all UK regions on low pay.
We believe that now is a time for bold and courageous thinking, not another lost decade of austerity.
The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced the Job Retention Scheme - an acknowledgement by a Tory government that the state has become the income backer of last resort and rightly so. We believe it is essential the government adopts a 'whatever it takes' approach and must borrow big and take advantage of the historically low interest rates and provide industry with a stimulus. We also believe now is the time for reform.
Our ICTU policy paper launched last week, No Going Back - A New Deal towards a Safe and Secure Future for All highlighted a glaring tax inequity. We know the UK has one of the lowest levels of public spending when compared with similar wealthy EU countries.
We also know that employers pay less than half of their wealthy EU counterparts when it comes to taxes on social contributions, at 41% of the EU peer country average.
The gap, and it's a significant gap, is approximately £121bn. In a Northern Ireland context this equates to £3.5bn.
Think of the things the NI Executive could do with an additional £3.5bn a year: a fully funded and integrated health and social care system; a first class and properly resourced education system, a green new deal and an end to low pay and precarious work.
We advocate this change should be phased in over a five to 10-year period, but employers must pay their share.
The state stepped in and supported business at its time of crisis. This was the correct thing to do.
But the state needs to be resourced and we believe bringing employers contributions on labour tax up to the EU norm is not a radical idea but fair, just and timely.
Finally, something the NI Executive could do which would not cost any money is to promote collective bargaining between unions and employers as employment rights is a devolved matter.
The OECD and others have commented that collective bargaining is a key driver for improving productivity and we need to do this in Northern Ireland.
Our society and community has come together during this Covid 19 crisis. We need to harness this solidarity and build on it, so there can be no going back.
Owen Reidy is assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU)