Omicron sweeps through Germany’s workplaces.

The Omicron coronavirus variant is invading factories and workplaces across Germany. The cost to workers is high. Nearly 120,000 people have died from the virus in Germany. One hundred twenty-two thousand people have lost their lives in the virus. Long COVID is a chronic condition that can affect thousands more people who survived the epidemic.

The “system-relevant industries” have been in decline since the pandemic outbreak.

Handelsblatt published a survey of smaller and larger companies listed on the DAX, concluding that there was an increase in infections everywhere, though with different intensity, on January 20.

MN Maschinenbau, Saxony, was one example. At the end of January, nine of 100 employees had been absent. MTU, an engine manufacturer, reported a “significant rise in infections” since the start of the year. Infineon was also affected. According to the report, many companies have put their reserve staff on alert and hired temporary workers to replace coronavirus absentees. This is true at BMW and Trumpf, a laser specialist in Austria and Switzerland.

WirtschaftsWoche reported that Opel, a Russelsheim-based carmaker, is also looking for temporary workers through Adecco. Stellaris now owns the automaker. Two thousand one hundred workers have been fired since the beginning of 2020. Opel management explained that workers are now being hired to compensate for the “shortfalls caused by Omicron wave.” Russelsheim has seen more coronavirus cases since the Omicron wave, i.e., since November, than the entire year.

Volkswagen Wolfsburg announced on February 8 that it was canceling shifts due to sick workers. It is difficult to find information about coworkers who have fallen ill at VW.

According to all reports, an unusually high percentage of workers have contracted SARS/CoV-2 since 2022. A study done by AOK Baden-Wurttemberg, an insurer, found that more than 130,000 (or 5.5%) of the 2.4 million workers covered by AOK Baden-Wurttemberg were unable to work due to COVID-19 diagnoses between March 2020 and November 2021. Nearly 20 percent of these fell ill in November 2021. In December 2021, the number of workers who contracted the disease had risen to almost 20 percent.

According to a spokesperson for the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, BDEW, the industry’s largest trade association, workers in the energy sector are becoming increasingly sick. The company is now training more staff and bringing back those who have recently retired.

The situation at the slaughterhouses has become very dire. New coronavirus infections have been on the rise for weeks, especially in the cutting area, where workers toil shoulder-to-shoulder. This is the perfect environment for the virus to spread, and workers have little to no protection.

The outbreaks are not reported by the NGG representative trade union or alarmed health authorities but rather through complaints from entrepreneurs who fear for their profit. On January 24, for example, the Federation of Livestock & Meat Producers’ Associations (VEZG) complained that it was challenging to meet the quota for slaughtered pork due to “a sharp rise in coronavirus infection, there was a shortage in staff in the slaughterhouses and especially in cutting.”

Due to unknown coronavirus infections, the Aalen slaughterhouse has been closed in Baden-Wurttemberg since February 1. New coronavirus infections have also been reported at the Husum slaughterhouse for Danish Crown cattle and the Bamberg slaughterhouse. On February 1, 120 Husum employees were infected by the coronavirus.

The district of Gutersloh was famous for its Tonnies slaughterhouses, which became coronavirus hotspots during the initial summer of 2020’s pandemic. The coronavirus infected more than 1,500 people at work. Clemens Tonnies, the owner of the property, and the state and district governments promised to correct the terrible living and working conditions that had led to the outbreak.

These were empty words. There are reports that Tonnies is experiencing coronavirus epidemics again today. Frontal ZDF reported this on February 2, 2012. It also documented serious violations of occupational safety and health and illegal dismissals of employees in the case of illness.

Omicron is particularly prevalent in public transport. Because of the high number of sick days, cities such as Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Augsburg or Chemnitz, Frankfurt is Main are cutting their schedules and closing routes.

The cities of North Rhine-Westphalia have made similar moves in recent days. The towns of Hamm and Remscheid, Monchengladbach and Herne, among others, and Bielefeld has stopped night bus service. Public transportation in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden has been cut for several days in the Rhine-Main region. School bus routes in Wiesbaden are also affected. This has led to increased congestion and increased risk of infection on the buses that still run.

Redaktions Netzwerk Deutschland (RND) reported on a cross-industry flash survey conducted by the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. One in four entrepreneurs described current staff shortages in Germany as “considerable.” Another four percent called it “critical,” Thirty-one in the healthcare sector described the effect as “significant.” However, 36% of transportation and logistics companies rose to 36 percent. Almost all businesses anticipate worsening.

The RND presented this information with the following sentence: “The German economy is suffering from the current coronavirus Wave.” This lament by entrepreneurs was combined with a request to the government to reduce quarantine periods. This clearly shows that these considerations focus on profit maximization and not public health protection.

Official figures show that more than 11,000,000 people have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, with 4 million infected since 2022. Last month in Germany, approximately 5,000 people were infected with the virus, 175 per day. No one questions the well-being of workers in all this.

But things could have gone differently. Suppose scientists had listened to their warnings and developed a global strategy to eradicate the virus (as was done in the case of smallpox and measles). In that case, many millions of people could be alive today.

China has led the way. With 1.4 billion inhabitants, China is the world’s largest country. It has only recorded fewer than 5 000 deaths and just over 100,000 cases. Unlike most other governments, China is using a combination vaccine, systemic testing, contact trace, and temporary shutdowns to eradicate the virus.

It is possible to end the pandemic and bring it under control today. This is possible only if you fight the new coalition government in Berlin, and the counterparts in all other nations, who are actively mass infecting all parts of society and schools in the interests of the capital. The capitalist corporations’ profit is the main focus and not the people’s lives.

This conspiracy also includes unions used to force workers into work in life-threatening pandemic situations. They also conceal coronavirus epidemics in factories and minimize their consequences.

Jorg Hofmann (chairman of IG Metall union) stated that facts do not support closing down industries to reduce coronavirus infection rates. The most severe economic consequences would be caused by the closing down of the industry.

Verdi, the service sector union, stated that getting infected at work was part of the “general danger of life.” GEW, the teachers’ union, has fought to keep schools open at any cost.

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (the Socialist Equality Party of Germany) and World Socialist Web Site urge workers to reject it and fight the pandemic through independent organizing into rank-and-file committees.

Schools are also resisting the government’s mass infect policy. International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), a youth organization from the Fourth International, called for establishing independent rank-and-file committees.

The struggle against the pandemic is similar to the fight against war and social inequality. It is fundamentally a struggle against capitalism. According to the statement, “A social system which walks over corpses in search of profits and destroys health and future generations must be destroyed and replaced with a system that prioritizes life over profit.”

All of our readers are invited to join us in this fight. We invite you to share your experience with the pandemic so that the WSWS can reveal the full extent of mass infectious diseases.

Coronavirus infections have been especially devastating to the following areas: schools, health care, transportation, logistics, and social services. Since November’s Omicron variant outbreak, health insurance companies have seen an increase in severe coronavirus infections in private-sector businesses, including automotive manufacturing, automotive engineering, metal process, plastics, rubber production, and mechanical and industrial engineering.

Few figures about COVID-19 infections were made public from the very beginning of the pandemic. Only single stories are filtered from factories, no matter how common or telling, to give a glimpse at the spread of the virus. Profits must continue flowing to the economy. Schools are not closed while the pandemic continues unabated.

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