April 8 marked another anniversary of the death of Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady,” whose steely eyes looked unmoved upon the suffering masses as they fell by the millions into the abyss of social dispossession.
“We save the world by saving business,” Thatcher and the neoliberal gurus proclaimed, as they turned the planet into a great stable to fatten up companies and financial capital.
Like starving hyenas they devoured everything in their path: laws, nature, ideologies, moral and ethical values, citizenship, hope, dreams, trade unions, collective bargaining agreements… Neoliberal ideology treated capital well while mistreating everything else.
The Welfare State was declared terminally ill. From then on, what was left of the state and of public institutions was to concern itself exclusively with protecting the welfare and health of multinational corporations.
Jair Bolsonaro, “president” of Brazil, is going down the same path as Thatcher when he claims that “Brazil can’t stop” or that “health comes second,” because his greatest concern is the economy… of companies.
“If you have a job, go to work,” coronavirus “is just a mild flu.”
JBS, one of the multinational corporations that have profited the most at the world’s expense, was hit with a legal claim filed by the Labor Prosecutor’s Office (MPT), motivated by complaints from workers in the company’s Passo Fundo plant, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.
The workers claimed that they had to work in close proximity to each other in several areas of the plant and without face masks and other protective gear, and, moreover, that workers with COVID-19 symptoms were not taken off the production line.
Sources from the Prosecutor’s Office reported that there were attempts to discuss the situation with JBS Passo Fundo, but management refused to attend the meetings arranged by the MPT.
A devout follower of Thatcher’s philosophy and a fan of Bolsonaro’s outbursts, JBS only cares about production and profit, and it considers that the lack of health control and prevention measures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is not an issue that concerns it. “JBS can’t stop,” the multinational corporation seems to say as it stuffs its already overflowing pockets, and neither can it respect, care for, and protect its workers and meet its health responsibilities toward them.
Having its workers crowded together in its meatpacking plants like cattle in its stables is part of a policy of the company for which the only thing that matters is the health of its financial results.
It is, in fact, unlikely that the owners of JBS can actually see any difference between the cattle in its stables and the workers in its facilities.