In November 2018, the British management of Luxfer Group announced the closure of its factory in Gerzat, in the department of Puy-de-Dôme. This despite the fact that the site was turning a profit and receiving many orders. The factory, which manufactured oxygen tanks, shut down in 2019, which led to an important mobilisation by the workers. The health crisis triggered by the coronavirus has given new meaning to their struggle.

Interview with Axel Peronczyk, CGT shop steward from the Luxfer factory in Gerzat.

For the last 5 years, I have been a volunteer fireman in a small fire station in the south of France. Like many other professions, we are mobilised to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. And like our colleagues working in healthcare, we are doing our absolute best with the means available to us.

The cynicism of the bourgeois knows no bounds. It reaches even the darkest of domains, like pandemics. Under capitalism, the existence and spreading of diseases can bring massive profits to a small minority. These last few years, while healthcare systems around the world have been destroyed by austerity, investors have pocketed colossal sums of money by speculating on pandemics. Since 2017, the World Bank has allowed investors to buy bonds with an annual interest rate of up to 11%, specifically under the pretext of fighting pandemics in poor countries. If a pandemic is declared, they lose their investment. But every eventuality is covered, and the criteria that trigger pay-outs to countries are very restrictive. Despite multiple healthcare crises like the measles and Ebola outbreaks in Africa, which caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, these bonds never paid any money out, and investors pocketed several tens of millions of euros in interest. In a situation where Covid-19 is causing tens of thousands of deaths in 180 countries, not a cent has been released.

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