Increase wages and index them to prices NOW!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 23, 2022

In the face of soaring prices, wages must be increased. Everyone recognizes this: the Minister of the Economy, the head of the French employers’ association (the Medef), political leaders from both left and right, and all the so-called economic experts.

Oh, they’re not worried about workers! They don't care if workers have to tighten their belts! But they do see that the impoverishment of the working class is becoming dangerous for the whole economy: the clientele of small shopkeepers is shrinking, and it is difficult if not impossible for them to recruit staff when the level of wages is so low.

So the question of wages has become a problem for everyone. But big business doesn't want to pay and the government will not impose anything on big bosses. It could, if only by significantly increasing the minimum wage. But the government doesn't want to. Even when it comes to increasing the salaries of civil servants, the state is reluctant to implement a rise that would make up for their loss of purchasing power over the past decades.

Instead, the government is diverting attention looking for tricks: tax-free bonuses and overtime; food vouchers; rebates on gasoline for those who drive the most... All these measures, paid for by taxes, that is to say by each and every one of us, are only stopgaps. They are not designed to prevent us from becoming poorer, but to accept our impoverishment. Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie is accumulating huge profits!

The speculators currently driving up prices are lining their own pockets. And the super-profits of multinationals like TotalEnergies are only the tip of the iceberg. All big companies are making profits, not to mention the profits made in 2021. So, we have to fight to take the money we need from those profits!

We’re told companies can’t increase wages because they themselves have increasing costs. Then let them make their accounts transparent, and we'll see who's exploiting who!

In any case, there is no reason why workers should accept being robbed through prices hikes on top of being exploited. That’s why wages must be increased and automatically indexed to prices.

Many workers are not fooled. They know that it’s up to them to fight for real wage increases through strikes. In recent weeks, there have been many in both the private and public sectors, and they have often been successful.

An emblematic strike has just taken place in a factory in Châtellerault (in the centre of France) which manufactures Vuitton bags for the luxury group LVMH. Bernard Arnault, its owner, cashes in twice the minimum wage every minute, thanks to the profits made in 2021. The luxury industry is not just about rich customers and rich shareholders: it rests on the labour of seamstresses who earn 1,400 euros per month after ten years in employment. 550 of them went on strike and have just won a 100-euro increase. Well done.

Another huge and rapacious corporation, Toyota, has just announced a historic record of 20 billion euros in profits in one year, and continues to impose miserable wages. At the Onnaing plant in the North of France, where 5,000 workers manufacture the Yaris model, hundreds of workers are currently on strike over wages. To this list, we can add Amazon, where 1,500 employees mobilized in April in the country's largest warehouses.

Many strikes also concern the deterioration of working conditions, the lack of staff and the threat of short-time workand all these problems accumulate. The strikes also affect subcontracting companies, and many different sectors: hospitals, transport, local authorities.

In this context of crisis, if the struggles taking place in big companies extend to the rest of the economy, they can open the way to a change in the balance of power between the workers and the capitalists. Because the fact is that now, we can all be united behind the same demand: the increase and indexation of wages!

It is this need for collective struggles that the Lutte ouvrière candidates will affirm in the legislative elections on June 12. They will be present in all the constituencies to say that, through their collective struggles, workers can confront the bosses’s thirst for profit and change their fate.

Nathalie Arthaud