Socialist Workers Party statement

Cut the workweek with no cut in pay to stop layoffs!

September 14, 2020

Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for president, issued this statement Sept. 2. Malcolm Jarrett is the SWP candidate for vice president.

The Socialist Workers Party’s 2020 candidates are campaigning around a program of working-class action centered on the need for the labor movement to mobilize workers in their millions to fight against the scourge of widespread unemployment.

All workers must have jobs, regardless of what the bosses and their Democratic and Republican parties say that might do to the profits of the ruling capitalist families. We — the vast majority — cannot allow growing numbers of our class to be tossed aside and left to fend for themselves.

Overcoming the divisive competition workers face for scarce jobs is central to charting a road forward. The starting point is a union movement in every workplace. Workers need to use our unions to fight for a massive government-funded jobs program at union-scale wages — to build the things working people need, including housing, hospitals and schools, and to rebuild the electrical grid and destroyed homes in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana and Texas. 

The bosses are using layoffs and other schemes to cut back on our jobs and wages in search of higher profits, at the same time they raise prices and press those still on the job to work harder in increasingly unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Our unions need to fight for a sliding scale of wages and hours. To prevent layoffs, we demand a shorter workweek with no cut in take-home pay. No one gets thrown on to the street.

We face shortages and rising prices, especially for food, medicine, paper goods and other essentials. Our unions need to lead a fight for automatic cost-of-living adjustments in our contracts. When prices go up, so should our wages. And so should social security and pensions for all retired workers.

Fourteen hundred workers at Dominion grocery stores in Canada are on strike today, fighting against the bosses’ moves to cut their pay. The company had agreed to a $2-an-hour wage increase at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to keep “essential” workers on the job. Then in July, when jobs were tighter, they took the $2 back. And they offered a new three-year contract with only a $1 wage increase! The workers deserve widespread solidarity!

The labor movement must fight for immediate unemployment benefits for all jobless workers now, for as long as needed, at union scale. This means for everyone out of work, regardless of whether they’re “self-employed,” or “temps,” or immigrant workers without “papers” the rulers consider “legal.”

Working farmers are also facing ruin, crushed by mounting indebtedness. The trade unions must champion a fight for the government to cover farmers’ costs of production and put a halt to foreclosures. The SWP campaign calls for nationalization of the land to put the soil at the service of those who work it. 

Out of these struggles we can build our own party, a labor party, based on a fighting labor movement, that can organize workers, farmers and all those exploited and oppressed by capital to fight to take political power into our own hands. 

It would organize workers and farmers to do what working people in Cuba proved is possible. Led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement, they overturned a U.S.-backed tyranny, took power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers and established a workers and farmers government that took control over the country’s industries and large landholdings. Ever since they have used their government to defend their class interests, stand tall against the attacks from Washington and to extend a hand of solidarity to toilers in struggle worldwide. 

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