Workers and the Virus: Radical Lessons from Italy in the Age of COVID-19

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2025 ... March 19, 2020
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Workers and the Virus: Radical Lessons from Italy in the Age of COVID-19

Alessandro Delfanti, Beatrice Busi and Erika Biddle

In the face of the mounting coronavirus crisis, we need to start asking a crucial question: who pays for the lockdown? The last three weeks have taught some hard lessons to Italian workers. Indeed, workers have been shouldering the bulk of the crisis. This applies to workers in all sectors, and even more intensely with activities related to care. If the right to work safely cannot be guaranteed, all nonessential activities must be shut down.

Workers should not be forced to choose between their health and their livelihood. Yet Italian workers are losing their jobs, putting their loved ones at risk, protesting workplace health and safety conditions, and even self-organizing to make up for the lack of state intervention. In this article, we try to document the main takeaways from the early weeks of the Italian crisis, hoping these will be useful resources for workers in other countries currently moving toward an intensified crisis.

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