Chile. April 4, 2020. The Chilean business community, under the slogan of a supposed concern and support in times of crisis, has shown its “solidarity” aspect by carrying out a “collection” (1) throughout the country, which gathered the astronomical figure of $50,000,000,000, which will be used to buy “health implements, diagnostic tests, equipment and other necessary medical instruments”. The same people who, during the first days of the spread of the virus, in the face of the concern of the majority of the workers to be infected with COVID-19, were dedicated to calling the working class to calm down, accusing them of being paranoid, affirming that if production was stopped for a couple of weeks Chile would disappear as a country: just as it was declared in the Nazi concentration camps they made us believe that “work would liberate us” (2). Now these same people are showing “solidarity”.
Originally published by Vamos hacia la vida. Translated by Enough 14.
Those who had no concern or empathy for the workers who were laid off in the midst of the crisis invite us to be sympathetic to their actions, because “the whole planet is in economic crisis”. Let us remember that for Capital, crises are processes of change or regeneration, not of death; therefore, the bourgeoisie will never lose. It is easier for them to declare bankruptcy and play the classic games they play: buying up bankrupt companies and reactivating them, or evading paying taxes: Piñera knows all about that (3).
[Excerpt from an interview with a worker waiting in line to collect his unemployment benefits] (4) Interviewer: “What did they tell you? Why did you become unemployed?” Worker: “They told us that as a precaution for the issues that came with the problem of the coronavirus. That we were going to be in contact, that they were going to be calling us, it could be a week, like two weeks… but that’s where we are. We all went out with a notice of dismissal, all fired.
At the national level, it has been determined that employers can refuse to pay wages to workers who are unable to work due to the health emergency (5). This once again invites the business community to play games and make tactics for its own benefit. Ruling 1283 / 006 (6) where “with respect to workers who, on the occasion of such an order or call by authorities, did not enter into service, it must be concluded that having been unavailable to the employer, the latter is NOT OBLIGED TO PAY the respective salaries”. If the worker, due to sanitation problems of the company itself or in view of a future disaster, cannot attend to work, the employer is not obliged to pay his salary. Once again, the employers get away with it.
We will not ask for empathy from those who are able to spread the virus without any protection or resentments (7). It is the businessmen and the rest of their social class who, faced with the danger of contagion, carry out their lives as if nothing happened, infecting the workers: for them it is a simple disease, for us it can be a death sentence, since we have a health system that only cares about money.
We invite all workers to be aware of how the employers will act after the Telethon (8), because for them the image washing is essential during this time. We know that they do not “give stitches without a thread”.
We invite everyone to make gestures of solidarity within the nearby nuclei. Even though we know that daily life is not peaceful -especially when we live in towns- we can have acts of love and struggle: caring for our elderly neighbors, showing solidarity with people in the street, offering help to those who need it within the possibilities we have. We know that care measures must exist and we must take them, but we must not forget those who are most “helpless” in our class.
Let solidarity be a weapon. Don’t forget.
Unemployment Community, April 4, 2020.
(2)This slogan was found at the entrance of the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz 1. It reads: “Arbeit macht frei” (Work liberates you)
(8) Teletón is a charity event held in Chile on a yearly basis since 1978. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telet%C3%B3n_(Chile)
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