We are happy to publish this correspondence with an Italian comrade translated by the IWG. It illustrates, once again, despite all the propaganda that “we are all in this together”, what the working class really represents for capital … lambs to the slaughter, especially in dramatic situations like the one we live in.
I am writing you a brief report on the work situation in which I am living. As you know, I work for a large environmental hygiene company. Our sector falls into the category of work deemed to be in the public interest, so that, as it should be, given the period in which we live, our service cannot and should not be postponed or even less suspended.
Due to the epidemic, the company has made changes, mainly concerning the management of warehouses/offices, namely:
• The different services that are performed throughout the day (street-cleaning, door to door collection, etc.) must start and end with 15 minutes in between, so (depending on the company) to avoid gatherings in the changing rooms (consider that the number of operators, only in my warehouse, is about 300 people and, with lockers and narrow spaces, we are forced to dress side by side).
• The company canteen has not closed, but it is advisable that we stay there as little as possible and keep a sufficient distance between us.
We were told not to gather in a group in the “start and end of a shift” area (the place where daily tasks are displayed). The above mentioned provisions are obviously not sufficient to protect us as operators, because:
• The 15 minute interval from one service to another is insufficent to avoid gatherings, due not only to the small size of the changing rooms (as already mentioned), but the inadequate number of showers (a dozen) which inevitably affects waiting times.
• The canteen should be closed. We “suspect” that this has not been done because in other places without a canteen, workers receive meal vouchers … Would that be too expensive?
• The third and not least question, of course, is that we lack the personal safety devices (masks, disinfectant gel, etc.) that should be regularly provided to operators (whatever the current epidemic in progress). At first, they were refused with vague apologies, and then, after constant requests from workers, the company said that it had run out and was attempting to find them on the market; at the end, they were delivered, after several days, but in limited and insufficient numbers.
Also on this occasion, there was a clear difference between the “prime” workers and the rest of us. The offices were largely closed, teleworking was authorized, which is understandable given the type of activity carried out; but what we found to be disgusting is that there had never been shortages of masks and disposable gloves in management offices.
As usual, security officials and shop stewards did not even raise an eyebrow and took no action.
We work as usual, even in an “exceptional” period, but the exploitation of workers continues. In this period of “care about your safety”, the lack of it in the workplace is only too obvious. If the contagion should appear in my company, in the factories that remain open, in hospital services, they are in all respects to be considered as accidents/deaths at work. The god of profit cannot be stopped.