The presidential election Nathalie Arthaud wants the workers' voice to be heard

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
27 February 2017

Once Sarkozy, Juppé, Hollande and Valls had been knocked out of the primaries race, we were promised a surprising run-up to the election. “Anything can happen”, said commentators. In fact, no surprise is to be expected. The main candidates are equally eager to cater to the rich and their programs are all planned to benefit capital owners.

Former right-wing Prime Minister Fillon is under investigation on charges of misappropriation of one million euros worth of public funds for his own SME (aka the Fillon family). To create a diversion, he has geared his campaign even further to the right.  For example, he seriously claims that there is a “climate close to civil war” in France, because his rallies and meetings attract pot-banging protests. In fact, he is the one who is preparing to wage social war against workers with his plans to abolish the 35-hour week, to increase VAT, etc.!

Macron's program focuses on “major financial operators”. Only a few months back, these operators were criticized openly by Bayrou and yet, he has now joined forces with Macron. Macron wants to consolidate the Competitiveness and Job Creation Tax Break (CICE) and the Responsibility Pact─a handout to the bosses that is worth tens of billions. Like Fillon, he wants to cut jobs in the Civil Service (120,000). He also intends to increase the General Social Contribution; to cut health insurance costs by 15 billion and unemployment insurance costs by 10 billion; and to suppress the wealth tax─paid mostly by holders of stocks and bonds. If he goes ahead as promised and lowers the housing tax, however unfair this tax is, it will be especially detrimental to the poorer communities.  To sum up, his whole program caters to the rich.

Le Pen makes every effort to underline the differences between herself and the Macron/Fillon tandem.  But like them, despite claiming to be “the people’s candidate”, she refuses to target the wealthy. There isn’t a single measure in her program that might put their wealth at risk. So far, she has approved each and every governmental gift to the bosses (the CICE for instance). But she doesn't hesitate to attack foreigners, whether they be migrants trying to escape war or fleeing a ferocious dictatorship; or people who have been here for 5 or 10 years, working as unqualified hands on building sites and in big restaurants or as cleaners inside offices and out in the street. Her attempt to divide workers is a way of serving the capitalists' interests. Trump, who is a model to follow for Le Pen, has shown just how a government run by a billionaire in the interests of billionaires can use demagogy against foreign workers.

As for Hamon and the Socialist Party (PS), they try to make people forget the poor record of Hollande's government. Hollande became president with the support of Hamon, the Greens, the Communist Party (PCF) and Mélenchon. He had promised to bring unemployment down: it has sky-rocketed. Big businesses have taken advantage of governmental aid. For instance Peugeot SA, which has just announced a record yearly profit of 2.15 billion euros, was purportedly on the verge of bankruptcy in 2012. After receiving governmental aid, it shut down a plant, firing 17,000 workers to satisfy its stockholders! Those are the people who benefited the most from the Socialist Party's stint in government.

The main candidates for president all agree that there can be no growth, hence no jobs without the capitalists. And the conclusion they draw from this is that the government must pamper the bosses and dance to their tune.

Absolutely not! It’s the workers who make the world go round and produce all the riches. Their jobs, wages, working conditions and retirement pensions are therefore more important than the income of shareholders and CEOs. Workers must make their own claims. That is the reason behind Nathalie Arthaud's presence in the election. Like Lutte Ouvrière's former spokesperson, Arlette Laguiller, she is not a professional politician. She doesn't say: “Vote for me and your life will be different”. She is a wage-earner who is standing in this election to see to it that the workers' voice is heard.

To really fight against unemployment which plagues 6 million of us, the work that already exists must be shared among all with no loss of salary. The funds to finance this measure can simply be taken from the heaps of profits, past and present, hoarded by the rich. There must also be a ban on layoffs and job cuts.

And to compensate for the decrease of our purchasing power, there must be a wage and pension increase of at least 300 euros. No worker should earn less than 1,800 euros net per month.

Workers must also put an end to business secrecy to prevent companies from using the pretext of financial losses to make huge job cuts─as was recently the case with Vivarte (André, La Halle, etc.) And to do away with all secret wheelings and dealings, workers must impose their own audit of companies.

A vote for Nathalie Arthaud is a vote to have these demands heard collectively and to make them the goals of tomorrow’s inevitable struggles against the president, whoever he or she may be.