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(en) Slovakia, priamaakcia: May Day's English special RTVS also with an interview with the association Direct Action [machine translation]

Date Sat, 9 May 2020 10:26:34 +0300


The English broadcast of RTVS called Slovakia Today has prepared a quality 20-minute entry dedicated to May 1. An interview with a member of our association also took place within him. She spoke about the struggles of workers during the coronary crisis and also mentioned the activities of the International Workers' Association and our campaign We are not on the same ship (minutes 10:15 to 12:45). You can listen to the whole May Day broadcast here: https://www.rtvs.sk/radio/archiv/1487/1327603. ---- The following spoke on the coronacrisis and 1 May:
- Ján Ruman (political scientist)
- Martin Makara (student, publicist)
- Monika Uhlerová (vice-president of the Confederation of Trade Unions)
- Nadia Hladká (member of the association Direct Action)
- Tomáš Profant (political scientist)
- Jana Kapelová (artist)

We received questions about redundancies during a pandemic, activities at the international level, the situation of the precariat and the campaign "Coronacrisis: We are not on the same boat!" Https://priamaakcia.sk/ koronakriza /. Most of our answers were in the broadcast, but as a coherent text we also bring the complete text, including the Slovak translation:

When people are being laid off, there is not much we can do to help them in terms of keeping their job or getting it back. For employers in capitalism, this is a logical and rational step - when there is no work, people are going to be fired. This was happening during the last financial and economic crisis, and has been happening now, during a crisis started by a "biological" cause. In some countries, such as the USA, this process is faster because of the more flexible regulations, but it is happening in Slovakia as well.

Of course you can argue that the state tries to help, but its primary goal is to save the system and the employers. If you look at the measures taken in Slovakia, the workers weren't really helped much at all: many of their obligations were only postponed and their income already increased significantly. That is why we as Priama akcia have already offered financial support from our solidarity fund to our comrades.

Judging by the previous crises, we can expect various austerity measures which will hit workers the hardest in the near future. Because this is how capitalism deals with crises in general. Normally, we would advocate organizing and direct actions, which is what our union bases its activity around.

One might feel that in the current situation it is nearly impossible to organize a protest due to social distancing, but workers have already shown that this is not the case, as there are various possibilities to organize not only online but also in person. On one hand there are online meetings, protest and solidarity campaigns, on the other hand, workers organize strikes, walkouts or protest gatherings. We have already seen protests in Slovakia as well, like the latest case of health and social workers on Slovak-Austrian borders. People are coming up with very creative ways of protesting.

Our sister organizations in the International Workers' Association are also actively organizing. For example, our comrades in India organize delivery workers, demanding minimum income during the pandemic and also organize financial help for the workers hit by the crisis. In Poland, our sister union organizes with precarious workers and the unemployed. In the UK, our comrades are supporting people who have a problem to pay rent and are organizing as careworkers. The union in Spain is fighting for reinstatement of their member. All of these examples show that nobody is going to "give" us anything unless we ask - sometimes nicely, more often not.

We use the first of May as a symbolic event to promote a campaign focused on working class response to the COVID-19 crisis. Its main aim is to create a network of contacts and support those who want to be active in resolving their problems. We want to connect with people who see it the same way and show that it makes sense to fight back. Also, we think it is important to respond to the ideology of self-sacrifice. "We are not on the same boat", no matter what politicians and employers are telling us. We never have been and never will be.

The campaign has already started by publishing our view on the pandemic and our main goals. On the first of May, a pamphlet about our conflicts will be available to download. It describes the workplace conflicts our union won in the recent years and shows that it is worth organizing together with us. In the upcoming days we will explain the ideas behind the campaign in greater depth on our website and social media.

The pandemic might and probably will worsen the living and working conditions and we think that only independent self-organization of the workers can build a strong response to problems in the workplace and outside of it.

Slovak translation:

When laying off, people can no longer be helped to keep or get a job back. In capitalism, it is a logical and rational step for employers - when there is no work, it will be laid off. This happened during the last financial and economic crisis and even now during the crisis caused by the "biological" phenomenon. In some countries, such as the United States, this process is faster due to more flexible rules, but it is also happening in Slovakia.

Of course, it could be argued that the state is trying to help, but its main goal is to save the system and employers. When we look at the measures taken in Slovakia, they did not help the workers much: many of their liabilities were only postponed and their incomes have already fallen sharply. In this situation, as a union, we offered financial assistance from the Solidarity Fund to friends who had supported our struggles in the past.

Judging by previous crises, we can expect various cuts in the near future that workers will suffer the most. Because this is how capitalism always copes with crises. Under normal circumstances, we would suggest organizing and direct events, because that is what the activity of our association focuses on.

It may seem that in the current situation it is almost impossible to organize a protest if we want to maintain social distance, but workers have already shown that it is possible to organize not only on the Internet, but also in person. On the one hand, there are online meetings, protest and solidarity campaigns, on the other hand, workers organize strikes and protest rallies or refuse to start work. We have already seen protests in Slovakia, for example in the case of babysitters on the Austrian-Slovak border. People come up with very creative ways to protest.

Our sister organizations in the International Workers' Association are also actively organized. For example, our friends from India organize couriers in the fight for basic income during a pandemic and also organize financial assistance for workers affected by the crisis. Our sister association in Poland also organizes precarious workers and the unemployed. Our friends in Britain support tenants who have problems with rent and organize themselves in healthcare. The union in Spain is fighting for the re-employment of its member. All these examples show that no one will give us anything until we ask - sometimes decently, but mostly not.

Symbolically, on the first of May, we launched a campaign aimed at responding to the corona crisis. Its goal is to create a network of contacts and support those who want to be active in solving their problems. We want to connect with people who see it the same way and show that it makes sense to fight. We also consider it important to criticize the ideology of self-sacrifice. "We are not on the same ship" no matter what politicians and bosses tell us. We never were and never will be.

The campaign has already begun with the publication of our position on the pandemic and our main goals. A brochure on our disputes is available for download from May 1st. In it, we write about conflicts in workplaces in which our union has won in recent years. We show that it makes sense to organize together with us. In the coming days, we will explain the idea of the campaign in more detail on our website and social networks.

A pandemic can worsen and possibly worsen our living and working conditions. We believe that only independent self-organization of workers can be a sufficient answer to problems in and outside the workplace.

Direct action

https://www.priamaakcia.sk/Prvomajovy-anglicky-special-RTVS-aj-s-rozhovorom-so-zvazom-Priama-akcia.html
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