Save lives, not stock market profits!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 6, 2020

The government wants to reassure us and is apparently even getting ready for the end of lockdown. It sounds as if they’re in control! But where are the masks they’ve been promising us for weeks? They’re still rationed, even for hospitals. Only a few days ago, we were told that widespread use of masks wasn’t a good idea. Now we’re all being advised to wear them, even homemade ones!

And has the government done anything for France’s nursing homes? Not a thing. It just said they were in an entrenched camp, had to fend for themselves and look after the sick even if they’re not qualified! They’ll have to deal with the final days of residents who aren’t admitted to hospitals because there aren’t enough beds.

There are more intensive care beds thanks to the devotion of health personnel. Combined with the impact of confinement, this measure has eased the unbearable pressure on hospitals in the Greater East and Paris regions. But the numbers don’t really add up. How many major operations have been cancelled? How many people are in danger because they’re hesitant about giving hospitals even more work or are worried about contracting the virus?

Containment is indispensable but it also shows how helpless the government is. Humanity now has countless ways to confront an epidemic. Since the discovery of viruses, scientific knowledge and public health have made great progress. Epidemiologists warned public authorities of the threat of a new pandemic. And yet rich countries like France failed to prepare for it!

Instead of preparing, successive governments in France have for decades been closing hospitals, reducing the number of beds, laying off healthcare personnel and seriously underpaying them. The stockpiling of masks only costs 60 million euros a year but it was stopped. When a nurse’s aide asked Macron a few months ago for more resources, she was told – “there’s no such thing as magic money”. Macron’s job is clearly to find ways to redirect public funds into the pockets of the wealthy and the managers of France’s top companies.

Last Friday, the head of health administration in the hardest-hit region of France caused an outcry when he declared that he was staying on track with the planned closure of 174 beds at a major hospital complex. That’s how the public learned that the government hasn’t even put a freeze on hospital bed closures. And Macron claims that things have changed!

Nothing’s going to change as long as we’re under the iron heel of capitalism and under the domination of the bourgeoisie. Their interests always come first, even in the middle of a major health crisis.

Working people have shown great dedication and initiative in bringing solutions to the health crisis. But the “leaders”, so dear to Macron, the shareholders, capital owners and other members of the bourgeois class have brought nothing.

The fact that there’s still no plan to mass produce masks, gowns and medication is damning to the government and the bourgeoise. They can go on sending rockets into space but they can’t manage to sew two pieces of elastic onto cloth on an industrial scale.

Many employees, including those in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, are having to work in non-urgent manufacturing. They’d be happy to make the change as quickly as possible to producing reagents, respirators and tests. But bourgeois people are so greedy that they’re only interested in their own business, their competitiveness and their market share. Making profits is their priority and, since they own the means of production, they’re the ones who decide. And Macron is so dedicated to them that he’ll do nothing to challenge that.

The current crisis indicates clearly how irresponsible and merciless the capitalist organization of society is. The class struggle hasn’t been put on hold during the crisis, it’s been exacerbated. It’s a matter of life and death for workers. Those who are forced to go to work every day have to fight for even the most basic protection. Many workers are asked to breach lockdown by the bosses of big companies – Michelin, Peugeot, Renault, Airbus and their countless subcontractors – and go back to producing profits!

Workers, don’t put your life at risk for industrialists’ profits and to maintain a criminal social order. Defend your right to live. Organize. Challenge the political and economic power of the bourgeoisie so that you can overthrow capitalism.