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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 March 2020

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo by NIH/CC

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo by NIH/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Chris Thomas

Italy is in lockdown in the fight against coronavirus. Bars, restaurants and shops are closed, with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents.

And yet, under pressure from the bosses' organisation Confindustria, workers are still expected to go to work elsewhere, often on overcrowded public transport. It is a clear case of putting profit before health.

But workers have responded with a rash of spontaneous strikes across Italy. At Fiat in Pomigliano, Toyota in Bologna, the shipyards in Liguria, and numerous other factories and workplaces, workers have taken strike action over health and safety.

In some cases, there has been a lack of protective equipment - such as at the Ilva steelworks in Puglia where workers are striking for ten days. In others, health and safety measures have not been implemented at all or have been totally inadequate.

The head of Confindustria in Lombardy has called the strikes "irresponsible" and accused workers of "exploiting" the coronavirus! However, action from below has forced the government to draw up a safety protocol together with the three main trade union federations.

But on its own this will not be enough. "What applies in the street must apply in the factory," has been one of the slogans of the strike wave.

Only workers in essential sectors should be expected to work, and the trade unions should be involved in decisions about what constitutes essential work. All workers at home should be on full pay.

Workers will need to continue to organise on the ground in the factories and workplaces, and strike if necessary, to make sure the bosses adhere to the protocol.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 18 March 2020:


Workplace news and analysis

Stop Press: postal workers deliver massive strike vote and offer to become additional 'emergency service'

East London bin workers strike to get back unpaid holiday pay

Determined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days


International socialist news and analysis

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

New pamphlet: constituent assemblies and the revolutionary programme


Socialist history

South Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: workers must not pay the price!

Capitalist crisis and corona: Johnson's budget for the bosses

Coronavirus - a workers charter 2020

Coronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

Coronavirus housing emergency - suspend rent and mortgage payments, seize empty homes

PCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Councils must break austerity rules

Action needed to protect shop workers and access to essential goods

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

Workers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Coronavirus - waste processing employers putting us at risk

Bexley bin workers strike over lack of hand sanitiser

Going viral: socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Under the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Help us fund the Socialist

Stop gentrification of Lea Bridge

Tory student plot defeated at Cardiff uni

Nottingham uni occupation ends

Socialist Students speaking tour

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

TV: Noughts and Crosses


 

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