Europe

In an effort to save their system, the Tory government has pledged to throw hundreds of billions at the economy. But what they give with one hand today, they will attempt to take back through austerity tomorrow. We must make the bosses pay.

The social distancing measures necessary to fight against the spread of the coronavirus that we have been subjected to for several weeks have been promoted through media campaigns that highlight the advantages of staying at home. “Finally we can dedicate ourselves to all those things we don’t normally have time for in the hustle and bustle of daily life”: reading, yoga, watching a nice film, the more hobbies the better… But the reality is very different. 

Following the government’s lockdown decree, all non-essential production is supposed to be stopped. But Tory ministers have been purposefully evasive and ambiguous about whether this applies to construction sites, which are a breeding ground for disease and contagion.

On 19 March, several trade unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC) and employers' organisations (Medef, CPME, U2P) signed a short "joint declaration" with the bosses’ organisations on the current health crisis. A number of trade unionist activists, local branches and leaders have signed a counter-statement, rejecting this scandalous move by the union tops.

The Chancellor’s recent pledge for the state to cover workers’ wages shows the desperate situation facing the ruling class. The labour movement leaders must go further and demand nationalisation and democratic economic control.

The coronavirus crisis in Italy has brought out the real nature of the capitalist system that is now evident to millions of working people. Profit is being placed before lives, but the working class is reacting with militant strike action. What lessons can be drawn from this experience for the workers of other countries? Fred Weston explains.

The Spanish government has proven itself powerless to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. It urges the population to “prepare for hard times”, a forecast which data from the Ministry of Health confirms. On the other hand, the right wing lacks alternatives and simply engages in demagoguery. In fact, their austerity and privatising policies under Rajoy have, for decades, largely been responsible for the pitiful state of public health in the Community of Madrid, as well as in other regions.

Filling the vacuum created by the Tory government’s ineptitude, local community groups have sprung into life across Britain, providing essential support to the most vulnerable. These could become a powerful tool in the fight against austerity.

Watch our second livestream with Claudio Bellotti, editor of the Italian Marxist newspaper Rivoluzione, right here on marxist.com! We will discuss the ongoing political crisis and strike wave in Italy, where the working-class are showing the world how to fight the bosses’ attempts to make them shoulder the burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic shifting to Europe, the region now faces its most serious crisis since the Second World War. All of the pillars of so-called European integration are buckling under the pressure.

As of midnight 23 March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared a UK-wide lockdown. All non-essential businesses are being closed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. It is clear that this is too little too late from a big business government that places profits ahead of human lives.

While the Italian government has closed non-essential factories, production continues unabated in Germany, irrespective of the dangers to workers’ health.