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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire UCL - Facing the crisis By fighting the virus, transforming society (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 25 Mar 2020 07:53:11 +0200

Since the coronavirus epidemic reached France, the government has constantly wavered between containment measures - which have gone crescendo - and the desire to preserve corporate profits, by allowing business continuity in non-essential sectors. ---- The Libertarian Communist Union, meeting in an exceptional conference on March 17, thinks that it is necessary to reverse the priorities. The pandemic requires measures that must necessarily upset the capitalists. And that will prove that society and the economy can turn in radically different ways. ---- To stop the epidemic ---- 1. Barrier measures are needed which are not "class" measures , unlike what is happening today. Confinement cannot be a function of the social hierarchy, with telework executives and workers forced to go to production sites. Confinement cannot be a function of social hierarchy. Therefore: closure of all non-essential businesses and services, with full income maintenance for workers on technical unemployment, including those with precarious status (temporary workers, fixed-term contracts, temporary workers, etc.) ;

2. Work should only be maintained in areas vital to the care, supply and information of the population. We are thinking in particular of the health system, agro-food, transport, food and health distribution, audiovisual media and the Internet to pass the instructions. Workers in these sectors are on the front line ; the safeguard of the population rests on their shoulders. They must be rewarded, helped, supported, starting by ensuring the care of their children, with preventive and protective measures.

3. Both for efficiency reasons and to prevent the indecent "coronaprofits" of the crisis profiteers , it is necessary to requisition the private companies of these sectors, and integrate them into the public service, by placing their operation under the control of the workers themselves. They are the ones who are most likely to know how to reorganize production chains to protect themselves from the virus, with appropriate prevention protocols.

4. Beyond that, it is the whole of production and services which must be urgently reorganized. Industry and services must be entirely geared towards the production of health and protective equipment, and the assurance of livelihoods for all. If the state and the bosses do not want it, then it is up to the workers to impose it.

The workers who provide care and supplies are on the front line ; you have to help them, support them, reward them.
cc Pieter
To avoid the reissue of such chaos
1. The current situation demonstrates the need to requisition and socialize the entire pharmaceutical industry. This will relocate the production of drugs, while France is now dependent on factories located in India and China for 60 to 80% of the active ingredients . This will also allow research and development to be redirected towards meeting real needs, instead of production aimed at profit and which ruins Social Security .

2. The health system must also be revolutionized by the requisition of private clinics and their integration into the public service. A public service reinforced by massive hires and the creation of thousands of additional beds, with a revitalized territorial network. For months, emergency personnel have been shouting their despair at the dilapidated state hospital after decades of neoliberal demolition. The socialist, Gaullist or macronist politicians who orchestrated this disaster will have blood on their hands, and it must be said loud and clear.

3. The large retailers who, from Carrefour to Amazon, are rubbing their hands with the current situation and the giant profits it expects to reap, must also be requisitioned and placed under the control of its workers. This will allow them to limit themselves to the distribution of vital products, and to overhaul the whole organization of an increasingly dehumanized work through the combination of Taylorism and digital control.

The large distribution which, from Carrefour to Amazon,
rubs her hands with the current situation and the huge profits she expects to reap, must also be requisitioned and placed under the control of her workers.
What workers can do
1. The slogan of "general right of withdrawal" is the most suitable for the period in all non-essential sectors. Today, in several large companies, walkouts take place to guard against contagion. But employees are still hesitant about deductions from wages for strikes. The right of withdrawalmust be used as soon as possible for " serious and imminent danger " .

2. We must practice mutual social assistance, at the level of each building and each neighborhood: let's think of our most fragile neighbors, elderly people, people with reduced mobility, sick people ... who have difficulty moving around to do their shopping. Let us think of our neighbors who work in essential sectors, and who need to have their children looked after ... all while respecting "barrier gestures". Telephone, Internet, applications, messages pasted in the hall of the building ... there are many things to do to organize this mutual assistance.

3. Let us beware of xenophobic mistrust. No, our neighbors of Asian origin are not dangerous, and besides no one is specifically dangerous. Europe, not China, is today the global epicenter of the pandemic.

Prohibit online ordering of non-vital products.
Many Amazon workers strike or exercise their right of withdrawal.
To limit social breakage
The pandemic was the trigger for a stock market crash and a long-awaited financial crisis by all serious economists. Following the 2008 crisis, the States had indeed pumped colossal sums into public funds to save traders and private banks ... which subsequently changed almost nothing in their practices. Once again, therefore, the casino economy will crack, and it will undoubtedly be much worse than in 2008.

With its procession of layoffs and underemployment, this crisis will first hit the working classes who will face an increase in unemployment, part-time work, precarious jobs ... with a drop in income as a result.

To limit the breakage, it is necessary on the one hand to reinforce social protection, to cushion the shock, on the other hand to make pay the capital. This goes through:

the repeal of the unemployment insurance reform and not only its suspension ;
the repeal of the pension breakage, not just its suspension ;
the extension of the deadline for performing abortion for a period equal to that of confinement, to relieve congestion in hospitals and anticipate the foreseeable consequences of confinement ;
free transport to reduce procedures, congregations and vectors of contamination ;
the prohibition of dismissals during the confinement period, the maintenance of the wages of temporary and temporary staff, on fixed-term contracts and disguised employees (self-employed workers in particular). The capital will pay: in 2019 again, 60 billion euros disappeared in the pockets of CAC 40 shareholders (+ 12% compared to the previous year) ;
the requisition of vacant accommodation, Airbnb rentals and similar, hotel rooms, to shelter, in conditions of dignified sanitary confinement, homeless families, migrants and migrants who survive in wild camps or are locked up in detention centers, undocumented workers who are sometimes crammed in homes or unhealthy squats.
for low income, a moratorium on rents and energy, water, telephone and Internet bills , the prohibition of rental evictions beyond May 28.
The government is taken of course by the situation. We can therefore impose things on it, but only if the social and union movement rolls up its sleeves and tries to take matters head on. It is therefore crucial that all conscious and determined workers seize the union tool to regroup their colleagues on a united and combative basis.

Society must change radically
Let us be clear: these emergency measures are fragmented. They respond to the need to stop the epidemic and limit social disruption. But they will not prevent the economic crisis from happening, because it is the result of capitalism and the market economy. The virus was only the trigger.

Faced with this unprecedented situation, capitalism has demonstrated its failure, but the State will seek to maintain by all means the economic system in place, even if it means temporarily taking control of all economic activities, proceeding from interventionist manner in the organization of production via requisitions.

For the government, this will be the only alternative to the chaos to which everyone-for-themselves would lead.

For us libertarian communists, the emergency measures that we are proposing, as well as the responsibilities that workers will impose, will take and exercise today, draw an entirely different alternative. We have another project to defend: a project based on mutual aid and equality, with a strict and planned organization of the production and distribution of essential goods but under the control of workers.

We think it is high time to completely rethink the functioning of society, to adapt it to everyone's capacities to meet everyone's needs.

We can do away with this system, by placing all the means of production and distribution in the hands of workers, replacing the market economy with a socialized and self-managed economy, and the State with a system self-managed federalist.

Text from the debates of the exceptional UCL conference of March 17, 2020

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