Europe

Strikes have broken out in several Amazon warehouses in France, to demand the closure of the sites and full payment of wages. Gregory Lavainne, activist and delegate from the UNSA trade union on the ORY1 site in Saran (close to Orléans), explains the situation.

The global coronavirus epidemic and the declaration of the state of emergency have caused the most drastic change in the life of the Spanish population since the first days and weeks of the 2008-2009 crisis. Millions of people remain secluded in their homes and it was announced that more than a million will, temporarily or permanently, lose their job. We agree with the need to take bold and vigorous measures against this. But is the plan approved by the government the most effective way to fight the epidemic and ensure the employment and living conditions of working families, or is it just "bread for today"?

In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the German ruling class has shown it prioritises the preservation of profits over the wellbeing of working people. Against their hypocritical talk of “national unity”, we say: fight the virus with socialist measures – along with the diseased capitalist system itself!

The Portuguese Marxists of Colectivo Marxista de Lisboa have put out this call for a general strike until such time that workers’ health can be protected, key levers of the economy are democratically managed to ensure efficiency, and guarantees are put in place to ensure workers’ wages and democratic rights are not undermined. This call has resulted in a big response on social media, showing the developing class consciousness and fighting spirit of the Portuguese working class in the teeth of this pandemic.

The following statement by trade union activists in Italy explains how neither the governments’ response, nor the passivity of the Italian mass organisations, have been equal to the task of fighting this public health emergency. The workers will not die on the altar of profit!

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many governments are nationalising key industries and services. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, however, has relied solely on the market. Profit is standing in the way of an effective response to this crisis.

Faced with the spread of the coronavirus in France, the government and mainstream media are calling for national unity. But this hollow slogan, however many times it is repeated, cannot indefinitely hide the class contradictions that are becoming more apparent each day.

Europe is facing its greatest emergency since World War II. It is important that we follow the requests of the health authorities and physically isolate ourselves. We support this measure in content and practice. But we are on the side of working people. Our programme represents the practical will and the social interests of those who keep this country running, even in times of crisis. We sharply criticise the managers and bosses, who even now continue to force workers to do non-essential work.

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.

Join us TONIGHT (18 March) at 6pm GMT as we conduct a live interview with Claudio Bellotti, editor of the Italian Marxist newspaper Rivoluzione. We will be discussing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, as well as the ongoing strike wave in many parts of the country. You can watch a previous video of Claudio talking about the emergency here. Watch the video, posted below, right here on marxist.com!

The coronavirus crisis has shattered the lauded Portuguese "boom", which is based primarily on the now-crippled tourism industry, and exposed the fragility of this backward European economy. Portuguese workers must follow the example of their class brothers and sisters in Italy and Spain, who have met the bosses' attempts to make them choose between health and pay, with strikes and class struggle!

Note: The situation in Portugal has moved on quickly since this article was written. Confirmed COVID-19 cases have almost tripled since the weekend and the country has experienced its first deaths. The President is set to declare a state of emergency which will involve

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Claudio Bellotti - editor of Rivoluzione - discusses the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, which has the second-most cases after China. Around 24,000 people have been confirmed to have the disease. This emergency has exposed the underlying rot in Italian capitalism. A public health crisis has been brewing for decades, due to massive cuts to the Italian health system over the course of 30 years. Meanwhile, the erratic reaction of the government reflects the weakness and divisions in the ruling class.

On 14 March, in Moscow, near the FSB building, a series of peaceful pickets was to be held against the “Network Case” and new constitutional amendments introduced by the regime. But the authorities decided that, on this day, they would prevent even legal protests – at any cost. Several special police units were deployed in order to arrest not only the protesters, but also the journalists covering the protests. As a result, more than 50 people were arrested.

After much delay, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced the government’s lacklustre response to the covid-19 pandemic. The labour movement must fight to ensure that workers, the poor, and the vulnerable do not suffer as a result of the outbreak.

Yesterday's Budget announcement by Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak attempted to calm the capitalists’ fears with promises of extra spending and stimulus. But British capitalism faces a perfect storm, and the Tories’ promises will soon turn to dust.