Friday, October 16, 2020

New Communist Party of the Netherlands: The consequences of the pandemic for the people and government's response

In a declaration the New Communist Party of the Netherlands (NCPN) and its youth wing, the Communist Youth Movement (CJB), refer to the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in the country, the consequences of the new economic crisis and the response of the Dutch government which takes measures in order to safeguard the capital's interests.

The declaration reads:

The number of hospital admissions and deaths caused by the coronavirus is rising rapidly. Meanwhile, increasingly more people are feeling the consequences of the new economic crisis. Among workers, students, and pupils, there is a lot of uncertainty about the second wave and the economic crisis, as well as what this will mean for their job or education. The government, however, refuses to offer solutions and leaves everything to ‘individual responsibility’. Only big capital can count on the government for generous support.

The NCPN and CJB fight for concrete demands to counter the undermentioned problems.


Workers see how their rights are being put on hold with the excuse of corona. In workplaces health measures are still too often ignored by employers, and there is often barely any protective equipment made available (like disinfectants, and if necessary, face masks, gloves, etc.).

Many people have to work from home, and that often means increased workload, unpaid overtime, workers being expected to be available 24/7, and necessary equipment not being made available (like a good monitor and ergonomic office chair). Many homeworkers are isolated from co-workers with consequences to their mental health, and it also reduces the possibility to discuss malpractices with co-workers or the union.

Meanwhile,unemployment is increasing rapidly. Mass layoffs are the order of the day and many people are insecure about their future.

Many flex workers and self-employed workers do not have an income and are left to their fate.

We demand:

  • The raise of unemployment benefits to 100% of the wages, for the entirety of the duration of unemployment, by an allowance from the government
  • Full continued payment in case of sickness: not 70%but 100% of the wages, without waiting days, to be paid by the employer. Workers with weak health, who cannot work from home, should be called in sick and should continue to be paid 100% of their wages
  • The pandemic can not be an excuse for deterioration of working conditions, and the rights of homeworkers also have to be protected
  • Strict supervision of hygiene and maintaining distance in workplaces
  • Nobody can lose their house: public guarantee fund for those that can not pay their rent. Everyone has the right to housing, including homeless people, labour immigrants and refugees,therefore: cancel levy on rental houses, invest in social housing, set up price controls and upper limits for rent in the private housing sector (NCPN and CJB also fight for the expropriation of big real estate owners)

Pupils and students

Schoolchildren and students (of both vocational and academic education) are in great uncertainty. Especially many students have to make do with online classes, which can by no means be a substitute for physical education. Many students can not do their internship or research, which causes extensive study delay. Gross infringements of students’ privacy are committed by educational institutions, who watch over their students like ‘big brother’ through webcams, microphones and sometimes even web browsers.

We demand:

  • Compensation for tuition fees (we also fight for abolition; education is a right and should be free)
  • Extra allowance for students who incur a study delay, to cover additional living costs
  • Measures in educational institutions, so that students can have access to more – but also safe – physical classes (smaller classes, free access to face masks, regular cleaning of classrooms, increased frequency of public transport etc.)
  • The necessary means to make that possible: hiring more teachers and cleaning staff, something that was already necessary!
  • The upscaling of public transport so that crowdedness can be avoided, and the hiring of public transport staff in permanent employment instead of mass layoffs
  • The pandemic is no excuse for the infringements of students’ privacy

Healthcare sector under pressure

The healthcare sector is under pressure. GGD’s (municipal health departments) can not handle their tasks and have insufficient capacity to even test people with symptoms on time –while private laboratories are getting rich by offering expensive corona tests. Regular healthcare is again being down scaled in hospitals, which could have grave consequences for public health.There is even a scarcity of required medicine to help corona patients.

This situation is caused by privatization, decentralization and cutbacks in the healthcare sector that have been going on for years (as an indication: since 2003, the number of hospitals has declined by 20 and the number of hospital beds by more than 20%; the number of intensive care beds relative to the population of the Netherlands is one of the lowest in Europe).

We demand:

  • Hire more people in the healthcare sector (in permanent employment) and reopen the hospitals that have been closed overthe past years!
  • Improve the wages and working conditions for the workers in the healthcare sector!
  • Nationalize private healthcare, the pharmaceutical industry, and related sectors!
  • Set up price controls for healthcare and hygiene resources!

Corona policy weak and contradictory

On top of that, the corona policy of the government is weak and contradictory. The government has been saying for months that face masks ‘do not work’–against the advices of scientists and the World Health Organization–and are subsequently made mandatory. The official guideline that healthcare workers in nursing homes did not have to wear masks also turned out to be based on the shortage of protective equipment instead of medical considerations. People rightfully feel cheated. This causes distrust in the population and even conspiracy theories about the health measures being unnecessary because of the virus supposedly not existing or not being dangerous.

The contradictions in the government policy, however, are not caused by the virus supposedly being harmless. It is caused by the fact that the bourgeois governments never made the effort to take preventive measures for a possible pandemic and, instead of that, made enormous healthcare cuts. Now that the pandemic is here, there is a lack of preventive measures to fight the virus (even shortages of basic protective equipment for healthcare workers) and the interests of capital are continuously being prioritized over public health.

The spreading of the virus is being presented by the government as something inevitable. The government is going for a strategy of ‘maximally controlling’ the spreading, so that ‘the healthcare sector won’t be overburdened’. Actually this means: constantly take minimal measures, so that the economy keeps running. Meanwhile it is clear that this policy is failing in every aspect. The infection rates are exceeding all records, the number of deceased people relative to the population is really high in comparison to other countries, and a second lockdown might be necessary if the spreading escalates, bringing grave economic and social consequences.

We demand: enforce a strategy of completely containing COVID-19! The policy of ‘maximally controlling’ just means ‘letting people die in a controlled manner’.

Degradation of democratic rights

The corona outbreak is being used as an excuse for the degradation of democratic rights and expansion of the repression apparatus. This is not only about the ‘corona-law’ which gives the government and non-elected institutions authorizations without democratic control. It is also about measures that were already being prepared before the corona outbreak, like pepper spray and batons for BOA’s (i.e. community service officers; who have been forced to take more and more duties from the police over the past years because they get paid less, even though they are neither trained nor equipped for these duties), usage of the army for civil matters, weakening of investigative procedures for police brutality and lower sentences for violent police officers, and the possibility of having organizations banned by the minister (without interference of a judge or a legal process). The corona outbreak can under no circumstances be used as an excuse for the curtailment of political rights or the expansion of the repression apparatus of the bourgeois state!

We demand:

  • No extra authorizations for ministers or non-elected institutions without parliamentary control
  • Disarm all BOA’s and don’t give them (police-)duties that they aren’t trained or equipped for
  • Independent investigative procedures for police brutality, and the same sentences for officers as for civilians

Struggle is highly necessary

The government is definitely not willing to take the aforementioned measures, which work in the favour of working people and the youth, on their own accord. Struggle will be necessary to make this possible, and thus it is important that during the pandemic the struggle is not only continued, but also strengthened!

After all, during these months, the government has shown that only big capital can count on generous support: tens of billions in subsidies, loans, tax exemptions and public tendering. The working class will receive the bill. The government will try to postpone cutbacks until after the elections as much as possible. The consequences of this new capitalistic economic crisis (already the third in the 21st century) will hit the working class hard in the upcoming years.

In the meantime, contradictions are rising between imperialist powers that fight each other for control over resources, transportation routes, markets, and even vaccines. There is a real threat of imperialist interventions and even wars in various parts of the world.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the capitalist system is reaching its limits and has nothing left to offer the working class and the youth. More than ever, it is necessary to fight for a society without poverty, uncertainty, exploitation, and war - for socialism-communism

The NCPN and CJB offer their heartfelt condolences to the families and other loved ones of people who have died from corona, and from the consequences of the outbreak and the inadequate government policy.

CC of the NCPN

CC of the CJB,