[The original text was written in Greek in January 2022. It was being distributed, during the winter and spring, in protests of suspended health workers and of health workers –in general– against the NHS restructuring. Read the whole translation in pdf here.]
If someone was to follow the (mostly left-wing or anti-authoritarian) vaccine-fetishists’ boisterous monologues, they would certainly be impressed by their brazen, persistent efforts to conceal the fact that the state universal mass vaccination programs (which they vehemently support from the outset) unquestionably entail direct control over the collective proletarian body; be it in the workplaces or in spaces of consumption and social reproduction, through the imposition of a fluid and flexible apartheid-like system, in which the today’s (forcibly) “compliant” and “vaccinated” citizen can be excluded from spheres of social life at any moment, categorized as “unvaccinated”.
Within the digital, self-referential bubble in social media where this pro-vaccination faction is found busy politicking, exchanging predictable clichés –fundamentally threatening to the interests of our class–, our simple everyday experiences from the places of our wage exploitation disappear artfully.
Because the imposition of the capital relation –from the beginning and since then, constantly– entails both direct and indirect blackmail that has to remain hidden
Because the social causes of the pandemic –directly linked to the spiral movement of capitalist (re)production– must also remain hidden.
Because the public debate on the essence of the state management of the pandemic must be hindered
Because the proletarian needs –increased due to the pandemic– must be further suppressed
Because the policies of internal devaluation, through which they have plundered the direct and indirect wages of workers for the last ten years, must be continued – to an even higher degree
Because the (weak) proletarian struggles against old and new techniques of discipline and control must remain minority, non-mass struggles, and thus invisible.
Now that the state narrative of “operation freedom” has collapsed –hopefully for good–, now that it has been shown that the experimental non-sterilizing vaccines are not able to stop the spread of Covid-19 –no ongoing pandemic, after all, has ever been stopped through vaccines–, now that one country after another imposes new restriction measures on vaccinated people too, now that vaccinated people are flooding the hospitals and ICUs, we must expose the capitalist rational systematisation of our exploitation, which is (re)produced in ever more suffocating terms by this irrational world.
The managerial prerogative, west of the Pecos
(what all kinds of vaccine-fetishists won’t admit)
The Memoranda in Greece (that is, a series of “Economic Adjustment Programmes”; austerity measures imposed during the past decade) led to the deregulation of collective redundancies, and together with the large reduction of redundancy pay, firings in all small and medium-sized enterprises have been made easier than ever before. In addition, since 2019, the legal requirement for justification for dismissal has been abolished, the Labour Inspectorate was understaffed so that it could no longer carry out inspections at workplaces, while in the midst of a pandemic the political personnel of capital really got to work:
The recent Labour Law (Law 4808/2021) introduces the ability to impose a ten-hour workday (supposedly with the “consent” of the worker) without increased hourly wages. It also introduces the ability, in the interest of the employer, to increase the flexibility of wage labour (see, imposition of an obligation to “shift-work”, meaning here, working full shifts but less days per week/month/year) but also an increase in the legal overtime limit, doing a favour to the industrial sector that lusts for it.
Only the blind can miss what has been going on!
Even the blind however, must have heard the Minister of (capitalist) Development declare that, “if you are unvaccinated and you have come in contact with a Covid-19 case, you are obliged to go into quarantine for 14 days while getting paid by the company. So a business can reasonably argue that they’re being harmed by the fact that you are not vaccinated because they have to lose their employee for 14 days and pay them on top of that. So yes, it is a problem for a business to have unvaccinated employees. And every employee has to consider that seriously.”
The above statement, one among other similar ones since last summer, which back then targeted unvaccinated workers in the tourism industry, reveal something that every political clown of this rotten world knows: while until recently a worker could chill at home (with full pay) simply by stating to the boss that they were in “close contact” or by… coughing heavily in their face, now, once they have been certified as ‘vaccinated’, the worker loses that power as they are no longer entitled to any quarantine –even if they are actually sharing space with a sick person.
As for those vaccinated employees who get sick, always for the sake of capitalist enterprises’ good health and smooth operation, the law prescribes their return back to their jobs in record time –even if they still show symptoms of the disease! Besides, many complaints have come to light about managerial pressure on sick workers not to report their positive test result and work as normal.
In the exact same –all but hypothetical!– scenario, an unvaccinated worker faces summary dismissal with the blessings of the state.
Regarding this last remark, let us point out that inside all businesses, in the private and public sectors alike, a process of employee evaluation has been carried out, and based on this the administration is aware of which employees are “forthcoming”, “cooperative”, “accommodating”, “reasonable”, with “sufficient knowledge” and which aren’t. The thousands of “hidden” redundancies in the private sector, besides, prove that universal mandatory vaccination has been already imposed indirectly everywhere.
The everyday bullying that unvaccinated workers were subjected to was not confined, unfortunately, to the workplace, since where the boss’s pressure stopped, began the nagging of family, friends, shopkeepers, journalists, and others of the lot. It is not by chance that a large section of our class was forced towards vaccination –something that will become even more apparent when the state attempts to impose a third, or fourth, etc. dose.
The techniques employed to discipline and adapt the domestic and multinational proletariat to the new biopolitical model, however, were not limited to the above mentioned ones: the capitalists, with the backing of the state, laid their hands on our annual, nominal income either by imposing shift-work (part time) work or month-long furloughs. Also by imposing payment for all sorts of tests (self, rapid, PCR) out of our pockets, and from the day after tomorrow, the 100€ fine for unvaccinated people over 60 (until the measure expands to younger people).
Of course, the proletarian income has not only been cut directly, it has also been nibbled away indirectly through the rapid increase of inflation in all basic consumer goods, which resembles the period of the so-called “oil crisis” of the 1970s, which signalled the capitalist counterattack, with neoliberalism as its vehicle.
It is clear that the capitalists did not let the opportunity presented by the pandemic slip by and they took advantage of the truce readily offered by the left and anti-authoritarian pro-vaccinationists.
Having their flanks covered, the bosses concentrated their efforts on rearranging the terms under which surplus value is extracted, among other things by allowing by law the lengthening of the working day, or the squeezing of even sick workers to make sure not a minute is wasted in valuable surplus value production. It is not a coincidence that the capitalist class, as a whole, showed increased profits for the first 9 months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2019, and with an accelerating rate of profit.
Not even close to the proletarian demand for “half hours of work with double wages”, which is the actual scientifically valid way of collectively improving our health!
The continuation of the dismantling of the National Health System by other means
(another issue that vaccine-fetishists won’t talk to you about)
All the things that are generally true about workplaces are even more pronounced in public hospitals. Where:
- the 48-hour weekly work schedule was first implemented (calculated as a 4-month average, so even this limit is often exceeded) and simultaneously its overrun was allowed – up to 60 (!) hours for “reasons that pertain to the running of the service and the continuation of health care provision”.
- the quarantine period for sick health workers was cut in half, and for close contact with confirmed Covid-19 cases there is now no quarantine whatsoever.
- the chronic understaffing (from even before the implementation of the Memoranda!) led to the absolute physical and mental draining of health workers.
- mandatory vaccination was implemented directly, throwing another 6.500-7000 health workers – as if they were superfluous – out of the health system and out of work.
- now deaths of ailing older people are mass-produced (with or without Covid, in halls, corridors or ICUs, wherever the dart lands).
- access is denied to thousands of us – both patients in need of medical attention and care-taker relatives who are trying to cover the terrible shortages of the health system in staffing and equipment, as they can.
Indeed, the recent law that forces vaccinated health workers who are sick with Covid to work, while healthy unvaccinated colleagues of theirs have been thrown out on the street, proves to even the most phobic pro-vaccinationist that the measure of mandatory vaccination was not fulfilling any health-related purpose –beyond the (vain) attempt to reduce the sick leave for the few remaining health workers– but was in contrary, opening the door to the complete restructuring of the already insufficient national health system, trough public-private partnerships that will appear as a solution and ripe for the picking when it comes to fixing “problems” created deliberately from above.
The recent statements by (Health Minister) Thanos Plevris are certainly not coincidental, foreshadowing a social insurance system that “buys services”, a system that is more and more converted to an individual-return scheme, so that it better matches the individual contributions that each worker manages to pay – and if they had to work undeclared, well… they should have known better… A two-tier healthcare system, one utterly inadequate, borderline pretextual, for the pauperized proletariat and, another, luxurious one, for the luxurious needs of the “haves”.
Going back to public hospitals, their transformation to monothematic corona-hospitals (without regular clinic appointments) and vaccination centres (see Penteli Paediatric Hospital) in conjunction with the vestigial structures of primary care –so needed in the midst of a pandemic– has already paved the way for the surge of profitability of private doctors and medical centres, while at the same time, was quite effective in artificially suppressing social, medical needs — whoever couldn’t afford to foot the bill had to stay at home and wait stoically.
It is this artificial suppression, which they themselves orchestrated, that these unscrupulous bastards are now using to design the new tertiary care network, in collaboration with state think tanks, such as the Center for Health Services Management and Evaluation (CHESME) of the University of Athens.
The first studies have already been submitted and concern the radical shrinking of the regional hospitals of Western Macedonia in order to reduce operating costs by 35% (!). The objective will be achieved by drastically reducing –how else?– and then reallocating the remaining medical and nursing staff; by cutting the total number of beds available; by dissolving hospital departments/clinics where there is a “low ratio of patients per doctor” or “surgeries per surgeon”.
This premeditated wrecking of the existing health care institutions had been announced by (Prime Minister) Mitsotakis since July 2021–but the left of the pro-vaccination camp pretended not to understand: “There will be a reorganisation of the healthcare map because regional hospitals cannot do everything. They will do some basic things and then they will be linked up with a central tertiary hospital for the more specialised cases. […] For all this, of course, the secret is to measure, evaluate and watch the result produced. And the pandemic has clearly revealed a two-tier national health system. And we cannot leave it like that. And to anyone who opposes these interventions when they go ahead, we will remind them of what happened during the pandemic. […] Because we have regional hospitals, sometimes more than what we should have. We cannot have three hospitals within a 20-30 km radius since everybody wanted a hospital in their town and expected to have three good hospitals. This doesn’t mean that the hospital will be closed, it can be turned into a chronic care unit. But we’re going to rebuild the health care map.”
It is noteworthy that the model for shrinking the national health system comes from the logistics industry (see Hub-and-Spoke paradigm) and aims to optimise the trade routes from one point to another…
So indeed, this is how they perceive us: as pieces of infectious meat, wandering from one node to another, causing a traffic jam in healthcare services in-between.
The establishment of even stricter techno-economic criteria with regard to state spending on healthcare implies an even more inhumane and automated system of “healthcare”, a far cry from the particular individual needs of each patient: the length of hospitalisation, depending on the illness, will have been set in advance, and so will the medical protocols followed to keep the number of empty beds low (“or you can suit yourselves in the corridors’), with the beautiful logic of: “Time’s up!-and if you haven’t fully recovered, we’re sorry, but there are others waiting in line”.
A glorious, grand opportunity for industrialised, just-in-time medicine, and the advancing biotech industry, with its mRNA fixes now selling like hotcakes.
(what the vaccine-fetishists of all kinds won’t be bothered with – except hypocritically, to muddy the waters)
Let’s not allow the austerity policies continued by the state management of the pandemic, through a “strategy of tension”, to be imposed on the backs of any workers –in private and public sectors alike– as we have allowed it to happen for more than a decade.
Let’s not allow this constructed, permanent “state of emergency” to pass over the redundancies of 6500-7000 unvaccinated health workers who were vindictively thrown out of the health system with no wage or insurance, ESPECIALLY NOW that the grotesque government narrative has collapsed, with public hospitals becoming coronavirus hotspots and 2500 active health workers forced to work while sick.
Let’s not allow the government to use furloughed workers as an alibi to introduce and expand flexible labour relations in the public healthcare system.
Let’s not allow sweatshop labour conditions to be imposed in hospitals (3-month, 6-month, two-year temps, adjunct staff, and before long, unpaid/underpaid postgraduate students too).
Let’s not allow them to keep turning hospitals into Covid-exclusive treatment centres while the lives of our friends and relatives are lost in silence and invisibility.
Let’s protest our inhumane treatment conditions in the Covid (and not only) patient isolation-extermination chambers of the hellish hospitals of the pandemic, where they are treated as infectious bodies, deprived and unworthy of human communication.
Let’s not allow hospitals to be turned overnight into vaccination centres.
Let’s not allow clinics to be abolished or worse, regional (or metropolitan) hospitals and health centres to be closed down, in order to transfer medical and nursing staff to (chronically) understaffed hospitals or vaccination centres.
Let’s not allow hospital equipment, which we have been paying for with our health insurance contributions for years, to be given to private companies to exploit; let’s not allow private companies to bust into public buildings and start using them for their own benefit.
Let’s not allow the vaccine, this failed anti-Covid fix of disgrace and blackmail that is presented as a panacea, to pave the way for the further dismantling of primary care.
Let’s no longer allow the monologue of the experts about the “clean” health system sterilised against all criticism.
Let’s protest against our financial drain imposed through the 50 euro molecular tests we are asked to pay for every 3 days, just to enter the hospital wards to take care of our hospitalised relatives.
What we are fighting for!
Against the false divisions between workers.
For free access of all unvaccinated patients to public health, with no exclusions, against the commands of public hospital directors and managers who are throwing us out of clinics, to blackmail us for certificates.
Against class, gender, racial or social exclusions, bribes, surgery waiting lists, clinic visits with fees.
Against cuts in health expenditure, for permanent staff recruitment, paid leave, less workload.
For the self-determination of the body against its expropriation by the “specialists” of biomedical technology.
Our class interest is:
Common struggles of vaccinated & unvaccinated.
Unconditional support of all workers who are fired or suspended because they were not (and are not) willing to get the vaccine or the mandatory, paid by us, rapid tests.
The struggle for the repeal of the law on mandatory vaccination and certificates of health-related convictions at work, and all other social activities (food, entertainment etc.) and for the revocation of the furloughs of unvaccinated health workers.
The working-class control over the health services through common assemblies and struggles of health workers and users of health services.
The enforcement of pharmacovigilance which will expose the pharmaceutical companies and will serve the safeguarding of life.
The complete determination of the content of health and life according to our social needs as wage workers and not according to national ideals, state imperatives, and the needs of the isolated individual and its vaccinated survival, i.e. a survival within the alienated capitalist relations.
LET’S NOT FACE THE DISEASE IN A PHOBIC AND ATOMISED MANNER
LET’S USE IT AS A COLLECTIVE WEAPON, TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CRISIS FOR THE BENEFIT OF OUR CLASS
LET’S JOIN OUR STRUGGLES AGAINST THE VACCINATION CERTIFICATES AND PAUPERIZATION WITH THOSE OF THE WORKERS OF THE ENTIRE WORLD: FROM GUADELOUPE AND MARTINIQUE, TO ITALY, THE NETHERLANDS, FRANCE!
 This measure was abolished later.
 Similarly to the use of Vaccination Certificates now, the Greek dictatorial regime of Metaxas, back in the 1938, had entered into force the Certificates of Social Convictions with which those considered “communists” or even communist sympathisers and liberals, would be stigmatised and furthermore banned from public sector positions of employment or even from studying in universities, including also the introduction of several other fetters concerning their social life and their relation to the state authorities. These certificates remained in force until 1981.