Researchers stress the need to draw lessons from the coronavirus crisis
Saturday, 16 May 2020
Over 3,000 researchers from 600 universities from around the world have issued a joint appeal for a more democratic, sustainable society as the world emerges from the novel Coronavirus crisis.
In an open letter published in about 20 newspapers in various countries, the researchers stressed the need to make business democratic, de-commodify labour and clean up the environment. The current model is unsustainable, and it is only through a profound societal change that the world will be able to fight against the global health, climate, economic and political crisis, the signatories argued.
Workers “cannot be reduced to resources”, they need to be considered citizens in their enterprises, the researchers stressed, calling for the lowest salaries to be increased, wage gaps to be reduced, and employees to be given greater participation in decision-making within enterprises.
Labour cannot be viewed as a simple commodity, they feel, arguing that the logic of profitability cannot be allowed to decide everything, and that certain sectors need to be protected from the sole laws of an unregulated market. Everyone needs to have access to work that ensures their dignity, they added, proposing the creation of an employment-for-all guarantee.
The signatories also called on States to impose real internal democracy within companies, along with compliance with strict social and environmental standards since it is democratically run businesses that will be ready to carry out the ecological transition.
“Our responsibility as scientists and researchers is to help society choose its future by transmitting useful knowledge based on rigourous studies on the various ways for society to organise itself,” noted the three Belgian and French researchers who initiated the manifesto, Isabelle Ferreras, Julie Battilana and Dominique Méda.
“Thanks to their research, academics can help society to learn from past mistakes and develop alternatives that end the status quo and place our societies on the road to an economic future that is both democratic and sustainable,” they explained.