There is no real confinement without workplace closures

16 March, 2020 · News> Europe> Spain

Barcelona, today

Too late and too little is the recipe to ensure that this epidemic ends up decimating workers and their families. We have to stop all non-essential production in order for confinement to serve any purpose. And we have to stop layoffs disguised as “emergency measures”.

Confinement came too late…

As we denounced a week ago, the policy of “normality” and “tranquility” promoted by the Sánchez government at a time when the epidemic had already taken hold was at best foolish. More than a week ago, when transmission was already community-based, confinement should have been established, but instead the government called for participation in the 8M demonstrations.

Epidemiological models are very clear: the sooner radical containment measures are established, the sooner the trajectory of contagion buckles, and obviously it is not the same to buckle it early as it is to do so when the epidemic has already spread. Of course, no one could claim ignorance:

China bought us time. Despite its initial delay in acknowledging what was happening, as soon as it did so it took very drastic measures that offered us a month to act. The problem is that most of the rest of the world, including Spain, wasted it.

What was unacceptable was, as the chorus of media propagandists did, to describe the government’s actions as an early reaction. If we start counting the days by the beginning of the epidemic, Italy had already reacted not only less radically but later than China, but Spain reacted even later than Italy:

Italy was already late with respect to China when it decided to close Lombardy. “When China closed Hubei Province it had 12 cases per million. At that time, it had already recruited doctors from all the provinces and started building a total of 16 hospitals. It was a brutal effort, and yet the mortality rate was 30 times higher in Hubei than in the other provinces,” he explains. “It’s true that the health system in Spain and Italy is much more robust than in China, but not so much that it justifies such a delay in decision-making. Every day now counts more than ever.

The result: if we compare the data from day one of the epidemic in each country, Spain is the place where the number of infections and deaths is growing the fastest and has the highest number of deaths in relation to the infected population.

-… and it’s too little because it doesn’t affect workplaces

Bus in Madrid this morning

What is even worse, the prescribed confinement is no real confinement when workplaces are not closed. Confining the population except for work is a deliberate choice that condemns us to the Italian horizon.

In Italy, which boasts about having the “best public health system in Europe”, those over 80 are no longer cared for, but left to their own devices because the hospital system has already collapsed. Italian doctors now openly say that the epidemic’s great ally has been the austerity cutbacks and that 150,000 hospital beds and 46,000 health workers were removed in just over a decade. They are right… partially. Because ever since confinement was established, factories and large workplaces have been the major source of infection. Today in Madrid, Sevilla, Valladolid or Barcelona it is easy to understand why.

And messages have already begun to appear from workers in some of the major factories, denouncing the lack of conditions.

Let’s save lives, not investments!

If the spread has increased, it is because the priorities of the bourgeoisie and the government are focused on maintaining social order, preventing the devaluation of national capital, and trying to ensure that the “normality” of production is maintained by inertia. Their ideal is that we should uncritically obey the slogans of each moment without worrying or complaining, and instead remain “united” as far as they deem necessary to the production of profits. We cannot accept this. The risk for working families and the general population is too high. That is why it is time to go on strike in all workplaces that are not dedicated to the essential production to demand:

  1. The closure of all non-essential production and the implementation of general confinement.
  2. Reversal of all dismissals, both permanent and temporary, and compensation as medical leave for workers throughout the period of confinement.
  3. The extension of testing to the entire population with symptoms.
  4. The urgent reinforcement of medical and health teams, and the setting up of a large enough number of emergency structures and hospitals to allow the monitoring and isolation of patients at risk.

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