Irresponsible !

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 14, 2020

It is said that Macron felt compelled to set a date for the end of the lockdown in order to “define a horizon” and “restore hope”. The chosen date is Monday, May 11. None of the three necessary conditions to lifting the coronavirus lockdown have been met: there is still a lot of pressure on hospitals, masks are lacking and there aren’t enough tests to determine which patients need to be isolated. But according to Macron, “it’ll get done”.

“It’ll get done”, he says. “Tomorrow we'll have masks and tests”. The government has been singing that song for weeks. But some hospital services as well as private sector nurses and life support workers are permanently running out of masks! Not to mention bus drivers, cashiers, delivery people and many other categories of workers who are exposed to the virus.

After three months of what officials call “mobilisation”, we are still forced to make do with what we have because, even in a rich country like France, capitalists don't want to mobilize industrial means to make masks. And the state isn’t even considering requisition!

As for the tests, Macron has promised that they’ll be available by May 11. But people are dying in large numbers in nursing homes right now. How much longer must we wait? How many more people must die before something is done? Clearly there's nothing to expect from this government.

The initiatives, the dedication, the resourcefulness that made it possible to respond to the health emergency came from below, from anonymous workers. And it’s going to stay that way. We can’t trust the government or the bourgeoisie. The only ones we can trust are workers, scientists and health-care professionals.

For weeks now, employers have been on the verge of hysteria because of the shortfall caused by lockdown measures. Some of these gentlemen are not without philosophical insight: “we all have to die from something”, they say. While ambulance drivers and health-care professionals are giving all they’ve got to save lives one by one, others continue to obsess over keeping their business running, maintaining their share of the market and making profits!

The decision to reopen nurseries, schools, colleges and high schools as of May 11 was imposed by big business. Schools are going to reopen not for educational reasons, but to restore day care services. For them, closed schools are a major obstacle preventing parents from going back to work on a large scale. Well, this obstacle has been lifted and, on May 11, parents of school-age children will be free to go back to being exploited!

This is an ominous decision because it’s almost impossible to impose strict social distancing measures on school children. The epidemic will continue to spread. Macron’s rushed decisions are no surprise though because he’s simply obeying his masters’ orders!

Macron talks about the necessary respect of lockdown measures.and the rules of social distancing. He meets with medical experts and researchers, but he’s not the one who decides. Those who manage the present health crisis are those who have the upper hand on economic and social questions. They are the capital-owners.

One of them is Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, head of the bosses’ union. He believes that France is ready to enter a period of recovery. Of course, many industrial companies (in the agri-food, chemical, energy, transport and distribution sectors) had managed to maintain their activities. But all those companies that had been forced to slow down production are now going to pick up again.

Michelin has resumed work this very day. Toyota will reopen on April 21. Peugeot SA, Renault and their countless suppliers and subcontractors are getting ready to do the same. It means that millions of workers will be rubbing shoulders in crowded workplaces and jam-packed public transport.

The bourgeoisie and its government are playing a game of Russian roulette, threatening the health of working people and their families. They are about to wipe out the benefits of lockdown to sustain the interests of a handful of billionaires. And they claim to be preoccupied by the fate of ordinary folks!

There should be a rule allowing companies which are indispensable to social life to do business, but only if they can guarantee safe conditions for those who are at work. This is in the interest of working people and society as a whole!

We need to get ready for what will happen after the crisis. The bosses’ union has been very clear : it has nothing to offer but “blood and tears”. Bosses are already putting extra pressure on workers to outperform, by sacrificing their holidays and by working longer shifts.

We have already paid more than our share of the crisis. Big corporations and wealthy families have accumulated huge profits for years. Make them pay!