April 2020

Dear fellow pensioners and retirees,

As the collective leadership of the only global organization that exists today for the pensioners and the retirees within the International Union of Trade Unions and Other Class Oriented Organizations, affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), we are addressing all the pensioners and retirees of the five continents. During this critical period of the pandemic for the working class, the people, the pensioners and the retired workers, we consider that it is necessary and appropriate to contact you. The difficult times we are going through are another test for the people of toil as our lives are in great danger. Around the world we are already counting millions of people affected by the pandemic, as well as hundreds of thousands of dead, so far, without even knowing how things will turn out.

In this particularly difficult time, we need to protect ourselves, those around us, because if we don't, no one else can protect us. The outbreak of the pandemic, its rapid spread, and its profound effects on human life - especially in the more developed capitalist economies - have brought to the surface explosive problems that existed before its manifestation, but have now become tragically evident.

The pandemic has shattered many myths of the capitalist system, most notably those of the "strong" national health systems. The truth is that in this rotten exploitative system, as everything is subject to the logic of profit, so does the social good of Public Health, which is thrown into the pit of the lions of commercialization, dissolving its public structures in favor of private interests. Capitalists around the world, governments and their affiliated media, tell us that at this time "we need national unity because we are fighting an invisible enemy beyond social classes. The virus does not distinguish between sex, income, race and nation”. From the earliest times of COVID 19 manifestation this propaganda has dominated the world in a variety of ways. Is that however so? Definitely no!

For example, an employee in these conditions, who is still going to work, in order not to lose the daily wage and is stacked in public transport or in the workplace, is more likely to catch the virus, compared to the big employer, who can monitor the progress of his profitability as well as the pandemic, from a safe distance, in a luxury chalet, many kilometers away. But even if they get sick, will these two have the same access to the commercialized and privatized Health System? Are they all equal before the effects of the pandemic? Of course not!

Today it is indisputable that the health of the people, the care, the protection and the safety are incompatible with the capitalist profit, the greedy capital, the capitalist mode of production. Therefore, either solutions will be imposed based on the real needs of the people or the people will suffer. The people will live in miserable conditions, constantly paying from their scarce resources, so that the few and chosen ones capitalists will profit. That is the reason why now, we do not remain silent against those who use the pandemic as an opportunity to charge us once again with the new capitalist crisis. It is crucial for us, the people, not just to get out of our homes when the pandemic is over, but to come to the spotlight. Not to pay for this crisis either. To properly aim at the visible enemy, the real danger, for all the peoples of the world, which is capitalism in its highest stage; imperialism!

It is helpful to know that what we are experiencing today will not be a short parenthesis. We are not going back to where we were before the measures for the pandemic were taken. The danger to the people is not limited to pandemics. It is about the great wave of poverty, unemployment and the collapse of workers' and pensioners' social security rights, caused by the capitalist attack against men, women and the youth on the ground of this new crisis, another one of the many crises that capitalism knows (as Carl Marx predicted) before its destruction. After all, even the most important imperialist organizations (OECD, IMF, etc.) admit this. They predict that the depth and duration of the new crisis will be greater than that of 2008-2009. They have already said this at the meeting in Davos this January. We are already counting millions of unemployed people both in the metropolises of capitalism and in smaller countries.

International developments are rapid. The future of the Eurozone is becoming increasingly uncertain. The major centers of capitalism, the United States and the European Union, are constantly losing their supposed prestige, with the most notable examples being public health deficiencies and the lack of coordination at a European level, whose Public Health System is also not immune to the conflicting interests of each of its member states. Naturally, the EU has been created to increase the profits of the multinationals that control it and not to improve the living conditions of its citizens.. Even the clashes between the imperialist centers over which of the renowned monopoly groups will discover first the medication or vaccine against the pandemic to ensure more profit, shows the barbarity of capitalism. Moreover, many bourgeois political forces, led by and not only the Social Democrats are projecting "new saving solutions" as they realize that popular discontent will increase. They are trying to convince the people that they will be saved by major state interventions, or by a return to Keynesianism or by the issue of Eurobonds in the EU. However, these infamous "modern weapons" of all sorts of governments of the capitalist system and the Central Banks are rapidly becoming "slingshots" unable to stop the manifestation of the new international crisis.

The truth is that the intervention of the bourgeois state, greater or lesser, always serves the interests of the capital to the detriment of the people. Today's increase in government spending and the new loans offered to the big monopoly groups will be paid again by the working class. The people will once again be called upon to tighten their belts and carry the weight so that the profitability of capital can quickly recover in order, of course, to support new private investment in various sectors while fewer and fewer people continue to amass the produced wealth. The reason why expansionary fiscal and monetary policy are being chosen today by the leading conservative politicians in Europe and the US is because it meets the new needs of the capital, in conditions of severe production and consumption shrinkage while many banking groups are unable to play their role (those who would supposedly help the economy function well, because in fact private banks exist – like everything that is private - only to increase the large profits of their owners).

However, the new government loans, the deferral of tax payments, the provision of liquidity by the Central Banks, cannot cancel the outbreak of the new crisis, one of the circular and structural crises of capitalism, because they do not eliminate its deepest cause. That is, the large size of over-accumulated capital, which cannot be invested today with a satisfactory profit margin within the capitalist system that is losing its power. This is confirmed by the slowdown in the international economy before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the heavily indebted states and the troubled banking groups. This reality had already been announced by economists who support the capitalist system and had been analyzed at the meeting in Davos mentioned above. The pandemic did not create but dramatically accelerated this process towards a new crisis of the capitalist economy. The truth is that there are no magic solutions to the crisis within the walls of the system.

The developments of this period are instructive. They reveal that behind the illusory slogans of "European solidarity" and "European values" lies the relentless competition of the bourgeoisie that makes up the EU's imperialist alliance. A competition that is always getting harder as the deviation of the national interests within the core of the European Union between Germany, France and Italy becomes more prominent, due to the unequal manifestation of the crisis and its consequences.

In the phase we are in, each bourgeoisie is examining the cost of a "frontal conflict" that could destabilize the cohesion of the Eurozone and its alternatives. In particular, the German bourgeois political system is considering the consequences of a possible destabilization of the Eurozone after the Brexit and as long as Germany's competition with the United States and China intensifies, in order to determine its next steps and the necessary compromises.

Above all, recent developments dispel the myth that the EU could be a shield for the peoples against the crisis. All the aforementioned negotiations and contradictions show that the people will pay for the crisis again. With or without Eurobonds, long-term anti-popular policies are projected for employees. These recent developments will be used as an opportunity to increase the degree of exploitation, to expand flexible working relationships, to make labor even cheaper. It is the people who are constantly paying, both in times of capitalist crisis and growth. Only the people, led by the working class, can provide solutions to their own advantage.

Even today, 30 years after the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union and the socialist countries, there are still traces of the conquests of socialism in these countries. These conquests also had a positive effect on the peoples of capitalist countries, who, through their struggle, forced their governments to take some positive measures. The sending of doctors from excluded Cuba to Italy and to many other countries, the Health Infrastructure in countries such as Germany, which in the period of socialism as the German People's Republic had to enhance health units, even the way to manage the pandemic in capitalist China today, reveals the socialist remnants. But at the same time, bourgeois governments (regardless of how they are politically redefined, neoliberal, social-democratic, left-wing), are spending hundreds of billions on NATO weapons and other imperialist organizations in order to serve the imperialist wars taking place all over the world, the interventions and exclusions of countries, or the imperialist peace they impose with the pistol on the temple of the peoples. Using money that derive from the work of billions of workers that would allow them to have good health, schools, social structures, homes, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, water supply, pensions and much more.

But today, unfortunately, this rival power does not exist. The people however need to come out of this crisis with more experience because the huge impasses of the current exploitation system become even more evident. It is within our power, the power of the pensioners and the workers, men and women to organize the struggle, our own social alliance. To powerfully answer who is ultimately the one who produces this huge wealth and where are the financial resources owned by the few. Using and promoting many forms of struggle, some of them relatively new ones, in these special restrictive conditions, is a key condition for the preparation of the popular counterattack with greater intensity from today onwards. Promoting claims and relief measures for private and public sector employees, for self-employed professionals, artisans, traders, self-employed scientists, farmers, women, children of popular families and especially for pensioners (as a high risk group), for the protection of public health, education, culture, for the restoration of democratic rights and freedoms, for the abolition of laws restricting trade unionism and political action, for the restriction of intensified repression, claims which are directly linked with the revelation of the causes and the great responsibilities of the capital in order to constrain the capital to assume the burdens of this new crisis instead of the working class and the popular strata. Demanding the simultaneous abolition of all anti-popular measures, we are fighting to prevent the people from falling into the trap of waiting. Today, the capitalist attack is unfolding even more. Today, there is a brainwashing by the media to passively discipline the workers in the bourgeois anti-popular measures. Today, they are trying to convince us that we are all fighting together against the "invisible enemy".

The latest developments shed light on the historical bankruptcy of the rotting capitalist system, as predicted by Karl Marx. This is the visible enemy. It nullifies the great scientific and technological possibilities that exist today to live safely. People are not destined to die because there are not enough intensive care units, beds, doctors, nurses, respirators or because a choice must be made regarding which patient will live and who will die. At the same time, thousands of doctors and nurses are unemployed and not being hired, while private groups remain unaffected in terms of profitability. Economic crises, unemployment and poverty are not natural. We can live without the daily insecurity of whether we will have a job the next day, whether we will be able to ensure the education of the children and the medicines of the family, whether we will have pensions.

All these needs are being subdued to the needs of the profitability of capital by the yellow trade unions around the world. Openly and not covertly in all international or national meetings with the employers or at every opportunity through the processes of social dialogue or social corporatism, they become the main pillars of the capitalist system to further exploit the workers more vigorously.

In contrast, according to the WFTU's program of demands, the pensioners’ movement around the world proclaims demands according to the real needs of the pensioners based on the wealth they have generated throughout their working life in order to meet their modern needs and not the needs of capital and bankers,  wealth that today’s workers continue to produce incessantly.

On this basis we claim:

· To have the right to a pension and to be entitled to a pension for all employees around the world.

· All insurance systems around the world should be exclusively public, funded by the state and the employers to meet all the needs of the pensioners.

· Reduction of retirement age limits for all employees, with even lower age limits for women.

· Decent pensions that actually meet our needs and do not function as welfare benefits.

· Public modern nursing homes with appropriate equipment and staff.

· Reinforcement of “help at home” programs for patients or those unable to take care of themselves.

· Public modern hospitals fully equipped with medical equipment, adequate numbers of beds and beds in intensive care units.

· Primary health units, units of preventive medicine, with adequate medical and nursing staff. All patient costs and medication to be free.

· Free public programs for the treatment of patients in need of spa therapy or other forms of treatment.

· Free public cultural programs for theatrical performances.

· Ensured access to clean water in countries in need.

Today in the face of the barbarity and impasses of capitalism, it turns out again that socialism is necessary and timely. Today everyone is talking about the invisible heroes who are fighting on the front lines, doctors, nurses, other workers of health sector (cleaners, kitchen employees, carriers etc.) supermarket, energy, telecommunications and transportation workers. These invisible heroes who produce wealth, who keep society afloat, will be liberated by socialism from the shackles of wage slavery. In socialism, the worker will play an active role in decision-making, implementation and control of decisions.

The productive forces will be liberated, because the purpose of production will now be the needs of society and not the capitalist profit. In this solid ground of social ownership, the scientific central planning of production will put crises at bay. Interdisciplinary international cooperation will be strengthened for the rapid production of vaccines and medicines, because scientific achievements will no longer be a weapon and a commodity in the competition of monopoly groups.

In these difficult times for the people, we have a historic duty for ourselves and our children to stay upright and healthy in body and mind, to contribute with our struggle and experience in order to defeat the real culprit of the misery of peoples which is no other than capitalism itself.

With warm class greetings

The collective leadership of the TUI of Pensioners and Retirees of WFTU