Faced with this crisis, we need to fight for our jobs and wages!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
June 29, 2020

The number of voters who stayed away from polling stations in the second round of the French municipal elections, on June 28, reached a record high. The historic level of abstention is a clear indication of the working class’s lack of interest in elections in general. While a new cohort of green-washed politicians is lining up at the door to replace long-standing public figures who have lost their credibility, rich business owners are continuing to lay off more and more workers, forcing them into poverty.

Sanofi, a major pharmaceutical company, has recently announced its decision to cut 1,700 jobs in Europe including 1,000 in France over three years.

Is Sanofi in difficulty? Absolutely not! The company is thriving! Its sales revenue increased by 7% within the first trimester reaching 9 billion euros. Profits were boosted by the sale of pain relief medication during the Covid-19 epidemic. The company has even planned to pay its shareholders a higher dividend than last year amounting to almost 4 billion euros.

It’s a never-ending race for profit for the CEOs of these major corporations. Sanofi is carrying out the two-billion-euro cost-saving plan it announced six months ago even though the previous restructuring plan isn’t finished yet. As one of its top managers put it, this reorganization of things corresponds to a “new strategy” where “certain activities are abandoned so that efforts can be concentrated on a few flourishing sectors”. In other words, the company intends to focus on whatever reaps the most money. Sanofi is ditching research in diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases and concentrating its efforts on finding a vaccine for Covid-19 which could bring in the big bucks…

“Finance is in excellent health” – that’s how one trade unionist at Sanofi summed it up. The only thing that matters to Sanofi’s top managers is their profit growth curve, the price of their shares on the stock market and the dividends they will be able to pay out to their shareholders.

The same week, management at the Finnish company Nokia, the world’s third largest telecommunications and consumer electronics company, announced a plan to cut 1,233 jobs which is one third of the company’s total workforce in France. Again, the Covid-19 epidemic is not to blame for the massive job cuts. This is the fourth downsizing plan since Alcatel took over Nokia in 2015.

The heads of these multinationals are doing what is typical of the entire capitalist class. They're fighting a continual war for market shares and profits and their war is paid for by the workers.

Job cuts, unemployment and the impoverishment of the working class are not an economic fatality. They're the results of the choices that are made to preserve the profits of a minority no matter what the cost.

There’s no reason for millions of men and women to be out of work and unable to live decently! Whether it's a factory worker at Renault, an employee at Sanofi, an engineer at Nokia or anyone else who loses a job, we all know there’s little chance of them finding a new one under the current circumstances. Defending our jobs is now a matter of life or death!

In order to defend themselves, workers will have to put up a fight. In that fight, to counter the attacks of the ruling class, they will need to rally behind a political program based on a number of vital measures.

In response to the bosses’ plans to cut jobs so that they remain “competitive” and continue to make profits, workers must demand that everyone be guaranteed a job at all costs. The solution is simple: we must share out the work to be done among all. And to ensure that there are no cuts to wages, they must be price-indexed.

There is a severe lack of resources and personnel in health care, education, transport, housing and many other areas. Workers will have to impose massive hiring wherever necessary to meet people’s needs. To finance these measures, we must use both current profits and those made in the past as well as the fortunes of shareholders. And to make sure of this, workers will have to take control over company accounts. This is not only in the interests of the working class but also of the vast majority of society.