The joint LO-LCR euro-election address

Lutte Ouvrière's 1998 conference (published in Class Struggle #25 - Britain)
December 1998

For Europe, radical measures against unemployment!

The future lies with a united Europe, without borders between the peoples. But the Europe that they intend to build has nothing in common with the interests of workers, the unemployed, and youth. It serves the industrialists and the financial groups. Their Europe is the Europe of exploitation, a fortress of the multinationals like Elf, Shell, Bouygues, Thomson, Siemens and Alcatel. It is designed to increase profits on the backs of these companies' own workers and of the peoples of the poor countries.

Their Europe is not democratic. The European Parliament is only a screen for the arbitrary power of the European Commission, shaped by haggling between governments and subordinated to the powers of wealth. The Europe which the wage-workers, the unemployed, and the youth need is:

  • A Europe of democratic rights, where the populations control decision-making.
  • A Europe of equal rights, beginning with the right to vote for all those who live, work and study there. All discriminatory laws should be suppressed. All illegal migrants should be granted full legal status.
  • A Europe of real equality, both social and civic, between men and women.
  • A Europe where abortion is free, and freely available, everywhere.
  • A Europe which respects the environment, putting controls on industries which pollute, phasing out nuclear power, where the capitalist logic of maximum profit sacrifices nature as it sacrifices men and women.
  • A Europe which would cancel the Third World debt, which has already been repaid many times over to the bankers. A Europe which would plan development with Third World countries in order to meet the basic needs of all.

The Europe which is being built today, with more than 20 million jobless and 60 million people in poverty, is sick with unemployment, with inequalities, with poverty and with racism.

It is not, however, national frontiers that will save us from unemployment. Our governments did not wait for the euro and the European treaties to impose cuts policies. The policies leading to the single currency, the European Central Bank, and the European treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, have generalised and coordinated the cutting of social budgets on a European scale.

They have made an agreement for a single currency, but in order to do it they have chosen to have the costs paid, not by the wealthy, but the working classes, to the detriment of jobs and wages, by privatising and dismantling public services and by imposing an agricultural policy which pays no regard either to the rural populations or to the famines world-wide.

On the Right, whether they are for more Europe or less, they are for the same pro-boss policy which hits the exploited and the oppressed. As for Le Pen, he is the worst enemy of us all: he wants to worsen that policy by attacking the workers even harder, beginning with the immigrants.

But the Jospin government, like its predecessors, refuses to dip into the enormous profits of big business, though that is the only way to finance the creation of useful new jobs in sufficient number to deal with unemployment and the drift to temporary and casual work.

It makes gift after gift to big business, while they continue to sack workers and extend temporary, casual and enforced part-time labour. Young people and women are the first victims. Pensions are taxed more and more, and social security contributions are increased, while, on the other side, today, the wealth tax raises less than TV licence revenue. Promises have not been kept. The government pushes on with the Juppé plan, it privatises Air France and France Telecom, it refuses to increase the minimum wage and benefit rates. Its policy, in line with the European economic "stability pact", is to impose never-ending cuts. It is not serious to pretend to "reorient Europe" while supporting the policy of this government, as does the Communist Party when it talks more militantly, just for election time, but without really opposing the government.

The great strike of winter 1995, the movement of the unemployed and their European marches, have shown a rejection of the logic of capitalism and have aroused sympathy all across Europe. It is the collective struggle of the wage-workers and the jobless, across national frontiers, on the basis of common objectives, which will defend the interests of the great majority of the population.

To put an end to the individual and collective tragedy which is the total or partial unemployment of more than five million workers in this country, we must take away from the bosses and the financiers the total control that they exercise over the economy. The profits accumulated by big business should be used to get rid of unemployment, rather than to feed into the financial circuits which threaten the economy with a major catastrophe.

It is necessary:

  • to stop all the state hand-outs to big business: subsidies, tax concessions, reductions in employers' contributions for social security;
  • to use the money thus saved for the state to restart creating jobs in the hospitals, in public transport, in education;
  • to give priority to good public services, to halt their privatisation and extend the public sector to enterprises which make profits from the basic needs of the population: water distribution, the drug industry, etc;
  • to ban collective sackings. Businesses which make billions in profits and which still sack workers should be not left in the hands of the bosses - they should be confiscated;
  • to impose a massive and concerted reduction of weekly work hours across Europe, to 35 and then 30 hours, without loss of pay and without the flexibility which permits the bosses to alter work schedules at will;
  • to level up collective-bargaining agreements to the best standards won by workers. To guarantee a European minimum wage, getting rid of the present disparities which maintain competition between workers, levelled up to the rate of the country where it is highest.

Taxes on high incomes and on speculative profits should be increased. The whole banking system and the European Central Bank should be put under control. And, so that these measures do not remain tokenistic, it is necessary to make public the real accounts of big business and the bank accounts of their big shareholders, so that the wage-workers, consumers, and the whole population can check on what they currently do in secret. That would be, at the same time, the best way to put an end to the politico-financial scandals.

To vote for the Lutte Ouvriere-Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire slate is:

  • to support a policy of radical measures to put the cost of the crisis on those who are responsible for it and are profiting from it, not on the people;
  • to declare that to get a Europe without unemployment and poverty, it is necessary to take from the capitalists their control over the economy;
  • to vote as far to the left as possible, to show opposition to the Right in a radical way, and to create a counter-weight to the far right;
  • to express determined opposition to the policy conducted by the government;
  • to clearly oppose any nationalist turning-inwards. The workers of all countries have the same interests, and the only valid frontier is the one which separates the exploiters from the world of labour.

By voting for the list led by Arlette Laguiller and Alain Krivine, you can elect to the European Parliament women and men who will defend the interests of the workers there, will be faithful to their commitments, and will be at your side to prepare the collective struggles of tomorrow.