The only solution for workers is a massive and determined fight

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
June 22, 2020

It's easy to see that the political merry-go-round has started up again — the second round of municipal elections, the government's dramatizing of ecological transition, an upcoming cabinet reshuffle, the anticipation of yet another speech by Macron...

But what's really important is what's happening in the workplace. The bourgeoisie, with its layoffs and company closures, is destroying the very conditions of survival of thousands of workers.

The health crisis was just an interlude for the bourgeoisie. Only 40 billion euros were distributed to shareholders instead of the 60 billion expected! Those who didn't receive anything have been told to wait until next year. For a billionaire, that's not exactly the end of the world!

Yes, there is an economic crisis. But no, profits and huge fortunes haven't disappeared. The bourgeoisie has every reason to feel supported: the aeronautics industry is getting 15 billion euros, car manufacturing 8 billion and tourism, hotels and restaurants 18 billion. The state is being very generous. Even so, the bourgeoisie is exacting more sacrifices from the workers and planning thousands of layoffs.

In sectors where profitability has collapsed the bourgeoisie is quite simply withdrawing its capital and declaring companies bankrupt. Where there's less activity, jobs are being cut. When the future is uncertain, short-term and temp contracts are being terminated and service providers are being dropped. There's no more consideration for workers than there is for machines that are plugged in, unplugged and moved around to wherever more profits might be made. And the fact that workers need a job in order to live is irrelevant to the bourgeoisie!

Even if the capitalist class has immense fortunes and is fed billions by the government, it will have no mercy on workers. It's going to exploit some of them even more and lay off others so that it can make more profits during the crisis. It will impoverish the whole of the working-class population to ensure its own prosperity. Workers won't be the only ones affected: small shops, small farmers, artisans, all depend on the workers' buying power. It's a declaration of war on all those who have to work in order to survive.

If workers don't defend their own means of survival, millions of families are going to plunge into precariousness and extreme poverty.

Workers have no capital, no stock market rates to maintain. All they have are their jobs and wages. That's what they have to protect from this crisis.

Political drama and popularity-seeking promises are of no use to workers. What is essential is that they fight back against the blows. Without a collective and determined fight, there's no hope of change. The fight can be started with objectives that are simple and that unite the workers.

If there's no more activity, jobs must be shared out among all workers — full-time, short-term, temp or sub-contracted. If there's less activity, work rates should be slowed, working hours reduced and wages maintained by taking the money out of profits.

Faced with the bosses' strategy of setting worker against worker, site against site, by overworking some and laying off others, we should impose less work for all and a job for all! No workers — manual, office, temp or short-term — should be driven out of their jobs or robbed of their wages!

Unemployment can be eliminated by massive job creation. The Covid-19 epidemic has made it abundantly clear that there's a crying need for more personnel in hospitals. It took thousands of volunteers to relieve just some of the pressure! And the same need exists for more help with dependent people and infants, in education, public transport, the postal service, to name just a few.

The bourgeoisie is opposed to job creation in these sectors in the same way that it's opposed to any public spending that won't bring it profits. But hospitals and state-run care homes shouldn't have to make a profit. Their purpose is to care for the needs of everyone, rich or poor. We must fight for the creation of these jobs. They're not jobs for making private profit, they're jobs for the public good and that in itself justifies their existence!

The bourgeoisie is only interested in profitability and return on investment. The workers need to impose another logic, to formulate their own aims: what society needs is jobs, wage increases and working-class control over the economy to stop capital owners from driving us from one crisis to another.