Denmark acted early to combat infection and protect jobs and wages

Photo by Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Scanpix/AFP: A worker disinfects the handles of an escalator at a metro station in Copenhagen

Contributed by Glen Davis

Around our planet, people struggle with the current Covid 19 outbreak. In addition to the health issues, economies have been seriously impacted.

Capitalist economies have been impacted the most, interrupting their need for the urgent sale of commodities, needed to maintain sufficient capital accumulation.

Different nations responded differently, though a few acted more thoroughly than others.

Denmark, one of the first to take the threat seriously, went into lockdown and restricted gatherings of people in early March. Borders and everyday services were closed, including education, cultural and sporting events.

Photo by Ritzau Scanpix/Martin Sylvest/Reuters: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks at a news conference at her office in Copenhagen

The government acted to cover the costs of employees in private companies, provided the companies didn’t sack them.

With many of their firms going into ‘hibernation,’ the government decided the best way to support workers, was for the government to pay the wages for the impacted companies.

If a company decides to fire 50 workers, or over 30 percent of its workforce, the government pays 75 percent of the workers’ wages. Workers are at home. They’re not sent home to work

Public sector employees have their total wages maintained, if they’re sent home.

The basis for this is, once the ‘hibernation’ is over, these workers return straight back to their jobs: No hiring, firing, mucking about etc.

Also, in Denmark, the government picked up the tab from the much-vaunted financial sector, guaranteeing 70 percent of new bank loans to companies, and compensated companies for fixed expenses such as rent and covering losses due to the impact of the crisis.

Those countries that failed to act early or thoroughly enough have found themselves in a much worse position.

Who knows how the world comes out of Covid 19? How does capitalism look after this?

Will we continue with the social Darwinism, so reflective of the neoliberal variant of capitalism? Or a maybe a ‘friendlier’, Keynesian variant of capitalism?

What we do know is, this is a time of great upheaval. So maybe some radical change will come out of it.

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