First coronavirus-strikes in Austria

The morning shift of a metalworking factory in Linz-Bindermichl, Linz went on coronavirus strike on 18 March, according to news website laumat.at. Strikers in Linz protested outside their factory gates on 18 March against the bosses’ irresponsible behaviour. Management refused to take any security precautions against the possibility of infection with the Coronavirus whatsoever. The workers ended their strike “under protest”, and took up tools after around two hours, when foremen and the factory committee jointly broke the strike.


Read the original in German |

Austrian news website laumat.at does not report whether this led to health and safety measures being taken. It notes, however, that the strike assembly took place in defiance of an official ban on gatherings. This reveals the central contradiction of the current health policy: while private assemblies are banned, workers are still allowed - expected - to “gather” in their workplaces. To be concrete, this means workers are “permitted” to contract the coronavirus in the factory halls, if the boss commands it, whereas strike assemblies aimed at forcing management to safeguard our health are illegal.

On Austrian TV, Prime minister Kurz explained: “no one has the right to stay home at this point; on the contrary, it is time to enter into contact with the employers, and they will decide, since the employers know exactly in which areas it is necessary for people to go to work, and where people could work remotely for a couple of weeks.”

Let’s be clear: this politics of preserving profit is endangering people’s health in Europe, the “centre of the pandemic”.

laumat.at reports that workforces in Ried am Innkreis enforced a cessation of production by threatening to go on strike.

The working-class runs society: not a wheel turns, not a light bulb shines, without its kind permission. The bosses, managers, hoteliers do not act with the interests of society as a whole in mind. They care about one thing, and one thing only: their bottom lines. Therefore, it is up to us to take responsibility and stop, in lock-step with our class-siblings across Europe, the coronavirus’ exponential spread.

All socially non-essential production must be stopped. Where possible, production must be retooled to produce badly needed products, as we have already argued at length:

  • We call on all scientists and engineers to distribute the formulas, production manuals, and technical specifications of the necessary sanitary and medical equipment publically on the internet. In particular, this means the recently developed Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) rapid tests, all medications used to treat the illness, all health technology necessary for live-saving intensive care, hospital beds, as well as all protective equipment (disinfectants, surgical masks, protective goggles, …) for health workers.
  • We call on workers in laboratories, pharmacies, university institutions, and all other areas of production, where it is technologically possible, to enforce a reorganisation of production to socially necessary goods.
  • Finally, to everyone who is currently forced to carry out non-essential labour in unsafe workplaces: let’s be responsible, let’s show our solidarity - let’s cease production and service provision immediately.

Be responsible: spread the strike-virus!