Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives are more worth than their profits – Fourth International European Declaration

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The workers’ movement, and all progressive forces, have a duty to resist the Covid-19 Assault, and put forward practical proposals which will work at local, national, and international levels. The full text of a Fourth International Declaration is here : http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article6517 Key extracts are below.

International Viewpoint

Emergency measures

The organizations and activists of the Fourth International in Europe, together with their respective organizations, are in favour of a programme of emergency measures:

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the injection of sufficient means for the mass availability of screening kits, the multiplication of resuscitation beds and respirators. Generalization to the entire population of suitable protective masks and biologic tests is the condition for confinement lifting. Immediate support for democratically controlled production of these means and for non-commercial research for medicines and vaccines against Covid-19.

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 the cessation of all economic activities that are not essential to the daily life and health protection of the population,

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 the 100% assumption of responsibility by enterprises and/or the State for the wages of workers who have suspended their activity, including precarious workers, temporary workers, domestic workers, self-employed workers and seasonal workers, without any obligation to take days off or to subsequently recuperate the hours not worked. Obligation for the state to pay the wages of employees whose employers refuse to pay them during the crisis. The government must then recover the cost of this intervention by fining the company guilty of not paying wages. For workers in the informal sector, for the unpaid unemployed, for students, for everyone who needs it, the state must provide a guaranteed minimum income which must be sufficient to live decently.

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 the prohibition of all dismissals and the reinstatement of employees dismissed since the beginning of the pandemic,

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refusal of any authoritarian and exceptional measures to suspend social rights, including the right to strike,

Press Freedom Must Not Be Undermined
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 provision of protective means (masks, gels, goggles, gloves) for all employees continuing an activity, allowing their protection and the immediate exercise of the right of withdrawal if the safety conditions are not respected.

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 the halt of all evictions of tenants, the suspension of rents, personal loans and water and energy bills, the provision of proper housing for all those living in precarious or without accommodation, the requisition of empty dwellings.

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 provision of adequate social care for the disabled, the elderly and all those socially isolated by lockdown,

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 the establishment, particularly in countries where confinement has been decided, of immediate emergency protection measures for women and children who are victims of violence, with rapid decisions to remove violent spouses or provide alternative housing for the victims,

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 the guaranteeing of timely access to contraception and abortion as vital medical procedures,

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 immediate regularization of all undocumented migrants and refugees with immediate access to all social protection systems, an end to all expulsions. With coronavirus having already entered migrant camps, the immediate closure of the vastly overcrowded migrant and refugee camps, especially Moria in Lesbos, is imperative, along with the requisition of necessary hotels and apartments with basic hygienic and confinement conditions. The borders of Europe must be opened for the safe admission of refugees.

The situation also requires that the interests of the popular classes be put at the forefront in a series of emergency decisions:

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 the public reorganization of the health sector, integrating the whole private sector, with the immediate hiring of all the care workers needed to run the services within the reopening of beds, services and hospitals closed in recent years, opening of all necessary health structures and the increase in the salaries of care workers,

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 the transfer into the public domain of the pharmaceutical industry and the production of the necessary medicines independently of patent rights.

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 the transfer into public ownership of the main social media platforms. Facebook, WhatsApp, Amazon and Zoom which are benefitting massively from the lockdown, and will be gathering data which will generate huge future profits. They should be taken over (without compensation, they have already raked in too much), and run as not-for-profit, transparent, public services.

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 in every country, transfer to public ownership of funeral services. Private companies should not be allowed to profit from death and attempt to manipulate people’s grief in an attempt to maximize their takings.

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 for a sustainable agriculture and global food justice.

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 immediate conversion of suitable industries (cars, aircrafts, weapons, …) to productions helping society to handle the health crisis: ventilators, monitoring, intensive beds, protective equipment. Workers could investigate their own workplaces and take measures for conversion in cooperation with health authorities.

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 expropriation of private banks without compensation to the major shareholders and the socialization of the financial system under citizen control, the suspension of all bank charges on private accounts and the provision to the working classes of zero-interest loans to meet their immediate needs.

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 immediate suspension of the payment of public debts must make it possible to mobilize sufficient funds to meet popular needs during the pandemic. The suspension of debt payments must be combined with an audit with citizen participation in order to identify the illegitimate part and cancel it.

Sadly, this pandemic and the worldwide crisis ensuing are the beginnings of repeated crises produced by globalization and climate changes. Capitalism has created a world which destabilizes, despoils human societies and exacerbates risks of climate or health disasters. We have to bring an end to the old world of profits, pandemics, climate change, and halt the destruction of our planet.

More than ever, our lives are worth more than their profits.

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