- We are faced with two interacting crises of the capitalist system—the global Covid19 pandemic and global recession.
- Capitalist industrial agriculture has increased the prevalence of viruses moving from wildlife to humans and the globalised economy has increased the likelihood of localised outbreaks turning into pandemics.
- Decades of neoliberalism and dependence on the free market have failed to provide for people’s basic needs or to protect our health.
- Market mechanisms and corporate bailouts can’t get us out of this crisis.
- We call for a direct government takeover of key sections of the economy to organise production and distribution to meet society’s needs.
- To expand public services and improve workers’ living conditions we need to massively increase corporate taxes.
- Government and employers will try to make workers pay for the crisis in their system. We need our unions to fight to defend jobs, wages & conditions.
- Spontaneous and often rank and file led strikes in the US, Italy, France and many other countries that demand a shut down of their workplaces during the pandemic or safer working conditions are a small but inspiring example of workers’ resistance to the health crisis. We support workers organising and using their industrial power to protect health and safety.
LIVES BEFORE PROFIT!
Suppress the virus to save lives:
- We support the lock down of all non-essential economic and social activity to protect public health.
- We reject calls to sacrifice workers' lives for corporate profits by relaxing the restrictions and restarting economic activity before it is safe to do so. A rapid return to work and the reopening of schools could trigger a second wave of infection.
At this stage, we support the continued closure of schools and childcare centres, while having measures in place to cater for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.
- Students and teachers must be adequately resourced for online education.
- Workers should not pay the cost of children learning from home. We call for pandemic pay for essential workers and pandemic paid leave for people who have to stop work because of the pandemic.
- No pay cuts for workers working from home with children learning remotely.
- Realistic expectations of parents and carers - flexible work must not be at the expense of physical and mental health.
We demand governments Introduce and maintain mass testing of all who request it to protect the community.
- Increase the capacity of the healthcare system to test the general population for covid-19 so that asymptomatic cases can be uncovered, quarantined and treated.
The free market and decades of neoliberal policy has failed to protect our health, by:
- failing to create stocks of PPE even though serious pandemics have been predicted by epidemiologists for years;
- failing to rapidly spin up production of PPE and respirators despite huge demand;
- failing to create, in advance, surge capacity in the hospital system due to years of cost-cutting and privatisation;
- privatising the aged care sector, creating the conditions for understaffing and lack of preparedness for a pandemic;
- failing to develop vaccines for coronaviruses in the aftermath of the earlier SARS epidemic because for-profit pharmaceutical companies deemed there wasn’t enough profit to be made.
- failing to provide personal protection equipment for all health workers and workers in essential industries.
We need to expand and fund public healthcare:
- Government and employers must provide adequate PPE to all front-line workers.
- Require more manufacturers of non-essential products to re-tool to produce PPE and ventilators. Alternatively, the government should take over plant machinery and factories so that the production of necessary amounts of PPE and medical equipment is possible.
- Build additional intensive care capacity urgently. No more ‘just in time’ health care where empty beds are seen as a burden.
- Take over private hospitals and integrate them into the public health system.
- Increase funding for mental health resources to treat the effects of isolation.
- Lockdown and isolation have increased rates of domestic violence. We call for increased resourcing of services and shelters to protect women.
The Federal and State governments have done nothing to protect people in areas where the virus could spread rapidly, such as in prisons. We note the disproportionate effect on aboriginal people who are over-policed and over-incarcerated. The government needs to immediately:
- Release asylum seekers and refugees from detention and provide them with community housing.
- Release all juvenile detainees, all prisoners on remand, all prisoners with 6 months left on their sentence and those with a custodial sentence of less than a year.
The State government has unnecessarily restricted political freedoms and over-policed minor infractions of the lockdown laws.
- Defend the right to protest safely.
- Defend the right to take industrial action.
WORKERS WON’T PAY FOR THEIR CRISIS - TAX THE RICH
The Federal government, which explicitly represents the interests of the capitalist class (‘business’) are attempting to shift the cost of the deepening economic crisis as much as possible onto workers by attacking wages, conditions and job security.
- Around 800,000 workers have lost their job already with hundreds of thousands more stood down without pay. Employers are forcing many workers to work part-time.
- Industrial rights have already been undermined with changes to the Fair Work Bill reducing the notice employers need to give to change EBA’s from 7 days to 1.
- The Federal government has announced a pay freeze for public servants. QLD health workers were also denied pay rise. We cannot allow the Victorian public sector to follow suit.
- The Federal government has stated that there will be ‘no return to normal’ after the pandemic: they intend to implement austerity and extreme pro-business policies.
Defend workers’ living conditions:
- No to pay cuts for workers: oppose the freeze in public sector wages.
- Oppose all industrial relations reforms that reduce workers’ rights. Restore and expand workers rights to collective bargaining and to strike.
- We call on unions to be on the offensive to match the offensive by employers. We need class struggle unionism to defeat these attacks and defend our living conditions.
- JobSeeker should be raised to the level of the JobKeeper allowance, permanently, and further increases should be tied to real wage increases.
- Increase other Centrelink payments such as the Disability support pension to the same amount.
- End mutual obligation requirements as part of the reorganisation of Centrelink so it operates as a service for the unemployed, not an institution designed to punish and discipline them.
- Free childcare should be maintained after the pandemic and the childcare system overhauled by ending privatisation and providing 24 hour childcare 24 to meet the needs of shift workers.
- Access to welfare and public health systems for all, regardless of visa status.
The travel ban has led to a massive crisis in the higher education sector. The Federal government must step in to fully fund higher education.
- Take care of casual academics - pay casuals during the lockdown.
- No to job losses of general staff, no to forced redundancies.
- Cancel student fees. Education should be free.
- International students need to be provided with financial and social support. They should have access to welfare provisions and have their visas extended.
The State government has bailed out landlords and introduced only limited protections for renters and mortgage holders experiencing financial stress. Their housing reforms have focused on propping up the housing market by cutting land taxes.
- Ban evictions & suspend rent payments for all those without steady income.
- Suspend mortgage payments without incurring interest for anyone with difficulty meeting payments.
- Public housing is an alternative to the volatility of the housing market. But the state government spends the least out of any state and territory on social housing. The state government needs to massively expand the public housing sector by building 100,000 new units. This would eliminate the pre-existing long wait list and meet new needs during this crisis.
Don’t sacrifice the environment for profit
- The state government has lifted a moratorium on gas exploration and green-lighted logging in catchment areas in the Great Forests region. We oppose opportunistic sacrificing of the environment for short-term economic growth.
- Oppose the delay in new powers for the Environment Protection Authority.
- Permanent shutdown for polluting industries and rapid move to renewables.
- Tax the rich. Massively increase corporate taxes and income tax on the very high income earners. 50 percent wealth tax on anyone with assets over $10 million.
MASSIVELY EXPAND PUBLIC OWNERSHIP
We need a massive reorganisation of society, taking the profit motive out of as much of social life as possible.
Access to high quality healthcare, education (schools and higher education), childcare, utilities (energy, water, NBN, gas), roads, public transport, are all basic human rights and should be free.
- Ban utility and internet disconnections. Utilities are a right, especially now that school students are required to learn via the internet.
- Utility bills for consumers should be abolished permanently.
- These industries should all be immediately taken out of the market system entirely and run by the government as public services.
- On top of the basic provision of public services, the government has a responsibility to ensure every person has access to adequate housing, food, clothing and the basic necessities of life.
Nationalise all essential industries.
- Transportation (both industrial and consumer) should be in government hands, as should food supply and distribution, core manufacturing, mining and construction.
- These industries should be completely reorganised to rebuild the social infrastructure we require to recover from this crisis and cope with the global recession and long term disruption of world trade and supply chains that are already developing and will inevitably deepen.
- Government takeovers not corporate bailouts for all big companies that require government money to survive.
- In instances where industries taken over are of no or limited social use (for instance, real estate agents, advertising, luxury goods production, management consultants) their infrastructure and workforce should be redeployed to provide goods and services that help society deal with the crisis.
- Jobs in the significantly expanded public sector must be secure, permanent, well paid jobs, with conditions protected by fighting unions.
- Government control is insufficient. Our goal is workers’ democratic control over industry and workplaces.