Spain: An emergency social and political plan against COVID-19
March 13, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Viewpoint — The Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is showing up the inadequacy of capitalist governments in dealing with such a crisis, and pointing to the responsibility of their policies regarding a public health service. It also raises broader ecological questions. These all merit broad discussion on the radical anticapitalist left, This statement from Anticapitalistas in the Spanish state indicates the guidelines to an initial response.
1. A health system capable of dealing with the epidemic
For a public health system capable of adopting radical measures. This implies an adequate budgetary allocation without submissively accepting the restrictions on spending imposed by EU policy:
• Reopening hospital beds in public health service.
• Urgently recruiting the necessary health personnel from all professional categories. Replacing those on sick leave from the first day. In the case of contagion, their leave must be considered as due to occupational disease and not ordinary illness.
• Providing protective suits, masks, gowns, glasses, gloves, screens, etc. to protect health professionals. Working conditions to be checked by the Health and Safety Committees.
• Having sufficient diagnostic resources.
These measures must be accompanied by:
• Control and coordination by the health authorities of all the resources, personnel and activities of the private health sector; prevention along with penalization of companies excluding this illness from healthcare coverage
• Control of pharmaceutical companies and companies that produce healthcare materials, control of the management of their stocks, as well as their distribution and prices.
• Health care without exclusion of all people affected or who need to be tested, whatever their legal status in the Spanish state.
These are the first steps to reverse the processes of deterioration and privatization of healthcare and boost a perspective of socialization of the strategic pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
2. An effort by the whole of society to contain effectively the epidemic throughout the Spanish state
Transparency of information and technical hygienic advice are basic elements so that the entire population can contribute responsibly, individually and collectively, to stopping the spread and supporting the sectors most at risk.
But that is not enough. It is necessary:
• That the workers affected by the coronavirus receive their full salary and there is ban on sacking them.
• That companies that take advantage of the circumstance to implement layoffs, individual or collective dismissals and so on are prosecuted.
• That full wages are paid to people who must leave their waged work to look after schoolchildren whose educational establishments have been closed or to care for elderly or convalescent people because to this virus.
The trade union organizations, workplace committees and workers’ representative bodies, as well as the Health and Safety Committees of companies or health delegates, if they exist, must participate in the decisions to be taken on productive activity, from how it is to be continued to the organization of teleworking to the temporary closure of facilities if the degree of containment requires extraordinary measures.
Popular, feminist, environmental and neighbourhood organizations have a fundamental role in the in the protection of public health by organizing information, promoting measures in communities, and making demands on the public authorities.
3. An effort in Research, Development and Innovation (R+D+I)
It is the time to give decisive support, by means of an increase of 200% in the current amount dedicated to research work in universities and specialized public centres by means of an Integrated R + D + I Plan of immediate application promoted by a public body independent of the private pharmaceutical and biotechnological industry.
On the one hand, this is about promoting scientific and industrial cooperation and the transparent exchange of information with other industrialized countries – starting with those of the EU – to promote research and development of solutions to the epidemic. On the other, it is about linking the entire international community, with special emphasis on supporting impoverished countries, in the effort against the pandemic, overcoming the current effective limitations of the WHO.
5. Financing the war against the epidemic
Throughout the Spanish state, and without any restriction because of special tax regimes and without detriment to the tax measures that are not contradictory with the following that can be adopted in the different autonomous communities, the necessary resources should be obtained by:
• Carrying out the necessary public spending to face the epidemic and the economic situation.
• Emergency taxes on large companies with profits and income exceeding 150,000 euros per year and 1% on the amount of big fortunes and patrimonies, to support the effort against the coronavirus, which implies the blocking of their assets in order to avoid capital flight, accompanied by the corresponding sanctions in the case of trying to avoid the law.
The goal of these measures is to win the war against the coronavirus, empower the people and the working classes, strengthen their rights, weight the financial effort on those who have the most, lead and provide a political solution to popular anger and protest and cut off right-wing populist demagoguery.