The following open letter was issued by workers of the Hotel Transamérica chain in Brazil, who are putting out a series of demands to ensure their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of 2019, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) announced a drop in unemployment from 12.3 percent in 2018 to 11.9 percent in 2019, that is, a 0.4 percent reduction. This change is not only insignificant, it’s also distorted: over the same period the number of discouraged workers, who gave up looking for work, increased by 1.4 percent. Informal workers – those without any kind of contract or self-employed – increased significantly, reaching a record number of 41 percent of workers who have some occupation. In practice, this means that unemployment has not decreased. On the contrary, it has led to discouragement or dragged workers into a precarious work situation, in which they are deprived of labour and social security protection, and with very low remuneration.
In order to understand what is to come it is necessary to understand what came before. In January and February 2020 the Fightback editorial board drafted the following perspectives document. This piece outlined the general processes in Canadian politics and economy in order to orient the activity of revolutionaries. Most notably it detailed the coming economic crash that would impact Canada especially hard. We said that all this crash needed was a spark to set it off, but we didn’t know what that spark would be or exactly when it would strike. Now we know that the spark was the COVID-19 pandemic.