To fight the pandemic, the health system needs money – now

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 9, 2021

After the ruling in favor of the health law by the Constitutional Council, the demonstrations against compulsory vaccination and the health pass were even bigger on August 7 than on previous Saturdays.

In the contemptuous manner so typical of all government members, Olivier Véran, the Minister of Health, declared that the true fighters were not the demonstrators but “those who respect the protective measures, who have been careful of those they are close to and are vaccinated". A new insult that will surely be appreciated by the many carers and firefighters who joined the demonstrations, and whose job is precisely to observe barrier gestures and watch over the entire population.

After 18 months of lies, the government is now defending its health law in the name of health and science. They must be kidding! The government’s “scientific truths” change more often than the weather. For example, due to unmanageable queues outside pharmacies, Véran has just announced that the validity period for tests will be extended from 48 to 72 hours.

The government’s vaccination policy is guided by its concerns for public health? As if! Like previous governments, Macron’s team has almost paralyzed public hospitals, so that one of the richest countries in the world had to face the epidemic with a lack of masks, gowns and Covid-tests. Financial logic entered public hospitals long ago, leading to the suppression of 100,000 hospital beds in just three decades. In the midst of the pandemic, over the past fifteen months, another 1,800 beds have been closed. Vaccinated or not, the nurses and carers who challenge these working conditions and their lousy wages are a thousand times more responsible than the government!

If there have been obstacles in the way of the government’s vaccination campaign, it is due to the lack of nurses and doctors, and to general mistrust of government policies past and present. Today, Macron is blaming the population for the fourth wave, but those accusations are only there to try and hide his own shortcomings. It’s his government and the capitalists it serves who should be standing accused today.

The big pharmaceutical companies, who are already increasing the price of vaccines, do not care about public health. But has Macron said a word to blame them? It's always the same story: constraints and sanctions are for working people, while the capitalists are left free to rake in the profits.

This new law is a political maneuver, which aims to absolve the government of its irresponsibility while attacking the workers.

Elisabeth Borne, the Minister of Labor, claims that the health law is meant to facilitate economic recovery and create jobs. That she can talk about boosting employment while her government is introducing a new way for bosses to dismiss workers–in a perfectly legal way–for health reasons, says it all. The so called economic recovery will mean profits for employers on the one hand, blows on the heads of workers on the other.

All workers are threatened by the drop in unemployment benefits and the planned postponement of retirement age. Wages and working conditions will be dragged down further, while the unemployed and pensioners will be reduced to misery.

The irresponsible minority at the top of the social pyramid imposes the dictatorship of profit on all mankind. That clan of huge capitalist corporations includes forty new billionaires, including the bosses of Moderna and BioNtech, who have accumulated fortunes thanks to the pandemic. Their power is harming public health and society as a whole: it needs to be overthrown.

This can’t be expected of any government. It can’t be expected either from the various politicians who claim they are against the health law in the name of freedom, but who defend the capitalist order. Under capitalism, the workers’ freedom is much reduced. They are free to be exploited for salaries which, with or without a health pass, don’t allow them to pay for a night out at a restaurant or at the cinema with their family. So the question for workers is to impose their right to live.

Vaccinated or not, workers will need to fight together to impose that public money no longer goes into the coffers of large companies but is used to create jobs and increase salaries in hospitals, nursing homes and associations helping the elderly and the disabled.

Workers will have to fight for the expropriation, without any compensation, of the shareholders of the pharmaceutical trusts, and to place these companies under the control of the population. This is the only way to ensure that vaccination and any scientific progress serves all mankind.