Lively discussion between students, parents and workers on an international counter-offensive against capitalism
Last week, students, parents and workers came together for the bi-monthly online meeting of the Safety Education Action Committee Network. The heated discussion was marked by enormous anger and outrage at the pandemic policies of the ruling class and unsafe conditions in schools and workplaces.
The introductory report and video segments of speeches at the ICFI’s May 1 International Gathering highlighted the importance of the new International Alliance of Grassroots Committee Workers (IWA-RFC), which will unite workers across all national borders in opposition to the corporatist unions. The network previously issued a joint resolution supporting the formation of the International Workers’ Alliance and calling for participation in the online rally on May 1.
The meeting took place under the conditions of the persistent and devastating global pandemic. A study on excess mortality conducted by the US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) had revealed days earlier that the actual number of coronavirus deaths worldwide is more than double the figure given by Governments. In India alone, more than 22 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported since the start of the pandemic, and one in two infected people have contracted the disease in the past month.
According to official statistics, around 1,400 people in Germany still die each week from COVID-19. Although numbers are now decreasing, infections have increased particularly rapidly in younger age groups. In children, adolescents and their parents, the number of infections is two to three times the population average. In this situation, the prospect of an international alliance of working class action committees met with a great response.
“Action committees are extremely important,” noted participant Claudia, for example, who lives with her family near Munich and has reported several deaths from COVID-19 among her acquaintances. “It is imperative to publicize the committees so that whatever is currently swept under the carpet is exposed,” she said. Infections in face-to-face classes, as well as emergency child care in daycares and primary schools, have also been covered and scientific concerns are not taken seriously, Claudia said. This was evident in her immediate surroundings: “Although my friend had COVID-19, her death was not recorded as a coronavirus case, but was attributed to the so-called ‘Kawasaki syndrome’.”
Madeleine, from Cottbus in Brandenburg, added: “Although we are in a pandemic, attending classes in person is mandatory, when we are all already under pressure! Parents who demanded alternative solutions in this situation given the unsafe functioning of schools were intimidated and harassed by the authorities. “They even sent the youth welfare office to take my daughter to emergency daycare,” she said. It is now crucial that “the grassroots” act together and fight for a scientific agenda against the pandemic, she said.
The discussion focused on the main class issues in the pandemic – from the orgy of enrichment in financial markets to the role of unions. Marianne Arens, member of the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) and writer for the World Socialist Website, underlined: “By discussing the ‘relaxations for the vaccinated people’, the ruling class paints a false picture of the situation and tries to confuse and divide the population.”
Far from ending, the pandemic in Germany looked like an embers that could turn into a major fire again at any time, she continued. “The real division is not between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but between the working class and the ruling capitalist class. As the latter benefits massively from the pandemic, the massive layoffs and long-anticipated wage cuts must now be imposed. “
Joshua, a student, said the capitalist elite in Germany had no interest in ending the pandemic, stressing how much they were profiting from it. “The Biontech share price, which was € 13 in October 2019, is now € 146. The company is now worth around $ 35 billion, but the mRNA technology that forms the basis of Biontech / Pfizer’s vaccine was developed at a public university. The German government’s refusal to lift vaccine patents and allow worldwide distribution of the vaccine was a particularly clear expression of capitalist motivation for profit, he said.
The fight against the profit before life policy was linked by SGP member Andy Niklaus to the fight against infections in the workplace. The Transport Workers’ Action Committee for Safe Workplaces, set up by Niklaus and other Berlin bus drivers, recently issued a statement opposing the plan to reintroduce front-end boarding on buses in Berlin. As Andy explained, this reckless and dangerous step would only serve to maximize profits through on-board ticket sales.
“In our statement, which developed wide reach in a very short time, we demanded that the front doors remain closed and that no on-board ticket sales take place during the duration of the pandemic. We also demand the provision of full protective equipment, no further coverage of infection figures in transport companies and high quality daily cleaning of vehicles. Cleaning personnel should be protected during the process. There should be no punishment or harassment for colleagues who refuse to work or talk about safety measures for fear of infection. “
What was also needed was “immediate and regular mandatory testing for all staff and an immediate start of vaccination for all workers,” concluded Niklaus, who also strongly advocated the creation of the International Alliance of Workers. In New York and London, hundreds of bus and light rail drivers had already died from COVID-19 during the first and second waves of the pandemic because funds for their safety had not been provided.
From Hamburg, Timo, who has been working for about a month in a coronavirus hotline, spoke of the desperation of people with serious pre-existing illnesses at the slow pace of vaccinations. “I talk to people from different walks of life every day who are in desperate need of a vaccine. Despite the ongoing risk, there are no free appointments for many people at risk. Children cannot be vaccinated but are still forced to go to school. In Berlin, said Timo, currently, “the six vaccination centers are massively under-supplied with vaccines.”
With contributions from the May Day rally, which were also the subject of heated discussion, the reports painted a clear picture of the need for workers and young people around the world to unite to oppose the policy. profit before life. Gregor Kahl and Martin Mauer, SGP candidates in the September general elections, noted that to date the unions had not organized any struggle against this policy in the world. Instead, they acted as corporate co-managers and government cronies to force the economy to open and job cuts against resistance from below.
“The call of the International Committee of the Fourth International to build the International Alliance of Workers of Action Committees is therefore of historic importance,” concluded Gregor Kahl. “Then like today, the intervention of the international working class is necessary to end mass death, and at the same time, then like today, the workers need a capable fighting party. to build a revolutionary leadership in the working class and to unite the struggles on a socialist basis. . “