FIT-U Statement On The International Workers’ Day
Next May 1, the International Workers' Day, will find the world immersed in a crisis of a historic magnitude.
The pandemic that is scourging humanity in the very 21st century has revealed the incompatibility of the capitalist system and interests based on benefits and private profits with the preservation of peoples’ health around the world. The policy of emptying public health systems carried out by all governments has been a constant, not only in semi-colonial countries but also in the central ones. This process was significantly intensified after the world capitalist crisis of 2007/08, when governments threw all their resources to provide a bailout for banks, multinationals and bankrupt capitals. As a consequence, the ravages of the spread of the coronavirus have been magnified on a global scale. The virus death toll is close to 200,000 people. The world's leading imperialist power, the United States of America, has become the epicenter of the health crisis. Other central countries, such as Italy, England and France are also among the countries most affected by the spread of the virus, unable to control the multiplication of fatal cases.
In a world affected by commercial and monetary “wars”, the emergence of the pandemic resulted in a qualitative leap and an acceleration of the world capitalist crisis, a crisis that had been brewing for some time. All bailout measures and incentives to bourgeois sectors, which the imperialist and capitalist governments had implemented from 2008 to the first months of 2020, and which had only aimed to save the banks and a minority of big companies, had already been proved insufficient to prevent a worldwide economic recession. The Covid-19 pandemic put an end to the deceits of the bourgeosie’s scribes, pushing the world economy in one fell swoop not just into a recession but directly into a depression. The "investors" fled to valuable refugees, the shares of the world's leading companies sank, payment chains broke, and bankruptcy processes sprouted. As a consequence of this crisis, all the preceding social antagonisms are surging to unbearable levels, while the only thing growing is the number of layoffs and the poverty and misery of millions of workers and other popular sectors. In the United States and Europe, the layoffs of workers number in the millions. And the same phenomenon of massive job destruction is spreading throughout the world, including our country. Although there are also signs that the workers and peoples of the world are preparing to face capitalist policies.
By Donald Trump’s initiative, the American Congress approved to allocate billionaire resources to rescue capitalist groups in crisis, which contrasts with the scarce resources destined to reinforce the health system. Likewise, the US government has used the pandemic and the capitalist crisis to promote a reactionary and criminal economic blockade against the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela, and to redouble its military threats against Iran. For its part, the European Union is promoting rescue measures similar to those of the North American government. The conservative and rightist governments of Europe, such as that of Boris Johnson in England and that of Emanuel Macron in France, as well as the center-left or "progressive" governments, such as that of Giuseppe Conte in Italy and that of Pedro Sánchez in Spain, have revealed its criminal nature, by offering resistance to social isolation in order to preserve the “economic activity” of their respective countries. Similarly, in Latin America, the pandemic blotted out the differences between the far-right Jair Bolsonaro and the "national and popular" López Obrador. Both, underestimating the health impact of the pandemic, push the masses of their respective countries to be victims of massive contagion, with the aim of preserving business profitability.
In our country, the employers press for a total lifting of the quarantine in search of a reactivation of economic activity to preserve its benefits, which objectively threatens the health of working people. In different sectors and in a progressive way, the Fernández government is letting by the development of business lobbies while refuses to allocate the necessary resources to shore up the health system and promote massive testing, and refuses to reorientate part of the industry to the production of the essential supplies and instruments to face the pandemic. On the contrary, the Fernández government reaffirms the policy that it postulated since the day it took office: subordinate everything to the restructuring of the debt with private creditors and international credit organizations, without questioning the “hateful” and fraudulent nature of that debt. This debt restructuring plan was voted in Congress with the sole opposition of the deputies of the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores – Unidad (Front of the Left and the Workers – Unity, FIT-U). The government has not only sustained a rigorous payment of most of the debt maturities that have taken place in the course of this year, allocating for it the 4.5 billion dollars that have been planned in the emergency law itself (even in the context of the emergence of the pandemic), but has presented to the international loan sharks, in agreement with the IMF and the capitalist “opposition”, a restructuring plan that only establishes a reduction of 5% of the capital owed and that recognizes an enormously higher interest rate than that prevailing in the international market. Meanwhile, it recognizes the whole of the debt, that surpasses the 400 billion dollars, including the one that Macri agreed with the IMF, which was wholly taken into the “financial bicycle”.
While the "national and popular" government is making extreme efforts in the country to comply with the provisions of the IMF and speculators of international financial capital, the arrival of the pandemic in Argentina found the public health system with a frozen budget, inherited from the government of Mauricio Macri and all previous Peronist governments. The consequences of this underfunding were quickly revealed: Argentina today has the highest proportion of health personnel infected with Covid-19 in the world in relation to all the infected. The capitalists, for their part, unload their crisis on the backs of the workers, as tens of thousands of workers were fired and suspended and violent wage reductions were applied. The union bureaucracies, far from defending the conquests of the workers, are listed as spokesmen and representatives of their respective employers, signing off on the attacks of the employers against labor rights. And the government, while allowing the increase in layoffs, suspensions and salary cuts, rewards companies with state subsidies to face part of the payment of wages, instead of using their fabulous profits obtained in previous years.
In most of the countries of the world, the capitalist governments, shielded in the health crises, reinforce and give a renewed role to the security organisms, foreseeing new uprisings of the masses in the face of widespread famine and health catastrophe. To this general trend, in our country the government added cyber patrols, which is nothing more than a preventive repressive social control in the field of social networks, against any possible social protests and a rise in discontent.
The pandemic has exposed the criminal nature of the capitalist strategy of the different governments of the world.
But on the other side, the exploited began to make our voices heard. Health workers, in the first line of the fight against the coronavirus, are in turn leading the fight against the sanitary emptying of the capitalist governments, leading all kinds of complaints, assemblies, “hugs” to hospitals and other posible actions in the framework of the pandemic. In the US, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Argentina; in the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece and France; in Pakistan, Nigeria, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa; health workers stand up and lead the way for the entire international working class. This path is also beginning to be part of the precarious young people who have been actively denouncing salary cuts, such as in fast food chains or in the international strike of delivery people, among other sectors.
In turn, the workers and peoples of the world do not enter the present crisis as a "blank sheet". 2019 has been a year marked by the emergence of the proletariat in important metropolises and by the emergence of great popular rebellions in different Latin American countries, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, such as France. The pandemic has imposed a relative context of containment of these enormous struggles and uprisings of the masses, but in no way have these processes been closed, since all the social contradictions that motivated these outbreaks, far from having dissipated, have become more acute. And just as some first and various expressions of protest have already begun to manifest against the poor government responses to the pandemic, the processes of struggle and claims will tend to grow, taking up the 2019 experience.
We reject the thesis by different “progressive” sectors that the problem is not capitalism but only neoliberalism, giving the idea that there could be a "more human capitalism". The current crisis shows the character of the capitalist system in all its variants. It is irrational, decadent and destructive of the environment and life, with strategies carried out by both the so-called right-wing liberal governments and the so-called "national and popular", "progressive center left ”or a false socialism.
For this reason, the defense of the political independence of the workers in the current and future battles, as opposed to the disastrous policy of class collaboration, will be fundamental to lead the workers’ and popular struggles to victory and to mark the way that will finally take workers to power.
To reinforce this perspective, from the Front of the Left and the Workers – Unity (FIT-U), this May 1st, a day of struggle, of vindication of the international unity of the workers and of commemoration of their martyrs, we raise an anti-capitalist and socialist program of comprehensive response to to the pandemic and the capitalist crisis:
– That the crisis be paid by capitalists, banks, multinationals and big businessmen, not the working people. Economical funds for hospitals and health professionals and workers. Massive tests to determine the real spread of the pandemic. For a quarantine without layoffs, suspensions and salary cuts. For an immediate Emergency Fund to allocate the necessary items to combat the greatest coronavirus crisis based on a special and progressive tax on all great wealth, banks, estates and land owners and the non-payment of all external debt.
-Down with layoffs, suspensions and salary cuts. Payment of full wages by employers. Distribution of working hours without reducing wages. Opening of their accounting books. Licenses pay 100% of all non-essential productive sectors to face the pandemic. Obligation of companies to convert and produce necessary supplies in the face of the pandemic. Commissions of the workers to control health standards. Subsidy granted by simple registration to all unemployed or precarious workers, equal to the doubling of the current minimum wages. Immediate increase in wages, pensions and social plans.
-Immediate triplication of health budgets to provide respirators, medicines, to hire more doctors and nurses, to enable rooms and beds and to provide reagents that can diagnose the coronavirus, among many other demands that the staff is raising. Constitution of crisis or emergency committees elected by and made up of hospital workers, with the right of veto, to guarantee the biosafety of hospital personnel and design the intervention policy. Free distribution of alcohol gel, disinfectants, chinstraps and all necessary medicine to combat the pandemic virus.
-Unification and centralization of the health system at national level, bringing together all the resources of the public, private, social work and University systems, under the control of workers and professionals. Implementation of central and local emergency (or crisis) committees, with the participation of workers.
-Popular control of prices of food, basic necessities and medicines. Opening of the accounting books of the companies that produce, distribute and market food and medicine. Down with capitalist speculation with food and medicines. Punishment of “price-forming” monopolies. Seizure, closure and detention of those responsible.
-No to home evictions. Freezing of rents and non-payment for the duration of the pandemic. Compensation to small owners of up to two houses. Census of idle housing and emergency availability for homeless citizens or overcrowded families (slums, etc.), which is where the spread of the pandemic can spread most quickly, starting with the members of the most vulnerable groups (the elders, people with pre-existing diseases, etc.).
– Emergency budget on gender violence to provide urgently and in suitable places assistance and protection to victims, in the face of the increase in the cases of violence and the growth of femicides in the context of the pandemic.
-No to the use of the coronavirus for militarization measures or to restrict the right to protest. Unrestricted defense of democratic freedoms. Release all political prisoners and detainees arrested during the course of the pandemic. Repeal of decrees and laws that make repression viable. Repeal of curfews. No to cyber patrols. Full rights to union and protest activity and to demonstrate politically. Mandatory opening of the press media to all political expressions to debate the policies with which to confront pandemics. No to the government by decree and the closing of the Congress: to hold sessions and put all the FIT-U projects to public discussion.
-Down with the reactionary and anti-worker labor and pension reforms. Nationalization of all private retirement regimes, under the control of active and retired workers. Out with the union bureaucracy that concedes labor rights.
-Sovereign disregard of external debts and no to the payment of them. No to the renegotiation to pay as the Argentinian government of Frente de Todos (Front of All) is doing. Economical funds for health, hospitals and working people, not for debt usurers. Immediate rupture of the economic and political pacts that bind us to imperialism. Out with the IMF of Argentina and Latin America.
-Nationalization, without compensation payment and under workers control, of banking systems and exchange markets to prevent capital flight and centralize national savings, to promote development plans at the service of the working people. Nationalization, without compensation and under workers control, of hydrocarbons, mining and all strategic resources, as well as of light and gas companies. Our lives are worth more than their earnings.
-We call upon the broadest unit of action of workers, popular and youth organizations, of the women's movement and the ones in defense of the environment to coordinate national and worldwide actions to impose substantive measures in the perspective of fighting to end this capitalist-imperialist system and impose governments of the working class. For the Federation of Socialist Republics of Latin America. For international socialism.
Partido Obrero – PTS – Izquierda Socialista – MST