To create jobs and increase wages, dig into corporate profits!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
13 March 2017

Every day the media report new developments in the electoral race. The focus is now on the tailor-made luxury suits Fillon was offered by a wealthy friend of his and on the latest sound bites of Macron and Le Pen. But there is a piece of information that didn’t make it to the headlines, yet provides very interesting data on the real state of the country: in 2016, the 40 biggest French companies (those that make up the CAC40 stock exchange index) raked in 76 billion euros in profits—a third more than in 2015. And that’s not counting family-run corporations such as Auchan, Sodexo, Leclerc, Lactalis, Chanel, Servier, Leroy-Merlin, etc., whose shareholders are also treated to lavish returns.

Big corporations say they cannot afford to recruit. But 76 billion euros could create two million jobs!

We are relentlessly told that the state's coffers are empty. But 76 billion euros is enough to build 700,000 housing units or 230 large hospitals!

Those 76 billion euros—and more—will not be spent on anything useful for the population. They will not even go toward investment, or only marginally. They will be wasted on speculation, which has reached such heights that it is threatening the whole economy with a new financial crash—a crash that could be as damaging as in 2008, and possibly worse. This money will be distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends, which explains why the rich—in France as in other countries—are becoming richer by the day. Bernard Arnault for instance, head of LVMH, the world’s leader in luxury, has doubled his fortune in only five years.

The great bourgeois who own these corporations are ready to spend millions to engage the services of politicians. Fillon's wife Penelope was paid 100,000 euros by a billionaire for not writing in a magazine he owns. Another business mogul—or perhaps the same person—could afford to give Fillon 48,500 euros worth of luxury suits. For the billionaires who run the country, these relatively small expenditures make sense: obtaining the implementation of Fillon's program at such a low price would represent a fantastic return on investments.

Don’t expect Fillon, Macron, Hamon or Le Pen to expose the colossal profits of big banks and multinationals. None of them intends to dig into these profits to tackle the scourge of unemployment. On the contrary, they want to reduce the corporate tax as well as company social contributions and to lower or even eliminate the wealth tax.

The huge profits garnered by big corporations are ample proof that French society as a whole is not poverty-stricken. But the capitalists' greed lowers the standard of living of working people and destroys that of the unemployed. Their thirst for profit looms over subcontractors, small entrepreneurs, artisans, farmers and others whose profit margins are squeezed, and who end up being sacrificed for the profits of Carrefour, Lactalis and Bouygues.

That is why workers must make their claims heard in the campaign. And this is why Nathalie Arthaud will run in the election as Lutte Ouvrière’s candidate. Each one of the main candidates dreams of becoming the next tenant of the Elysée palace. Nathalie Arthaud’s only ambition is to voice the demands of working people.

To eradicate unemployment, workers must dig into the bosses' profits and spread out the hours of work so that everyone has a job, without any loss on wages. Layoffs and job cuts must be prohibited.

To put an end to a situation in which workers are forced to count every single euro, wages and pensions must  be increased by 300 euros. No one should earn less than 1,800 euros net per month. ”A utopian measure”, commentators have said... Yet, today’s minimum wage is only 15% higher than ten years ago; in the same time span, CEOs’ remunerations shot up by 65%.

To fight off the dictatorship of 250 multinationals over the economy, business secrecy must be removed. Recently, Peugeot (PSA) claimed it was on the brink of bankruptcy and, a few months later, declared all-time high profits reaching 2.15 billion euros—lavish rewards to be bestowed on PSA shareholders. PSA’s so-called “economic difficulties” were in fact nothing but a pretext to close down a plant and destroy 17,000 jobs. Everywhere, workers are those who get things done, so workers ought to be empowered to control everything.

To maintain and develop public services, the state's budget should go on schools in working-class districts, on public transportation, public housing, public hospitals and public health-–not on the bosses.

Voting for Nathalie Arthaud means making those demands heard today. Voting for Nathalie Arthaud is also a way of proclaiming that, tomorrow, workers will have to engage in collective struggles, strikes and mass demonstrations if they want these demands to be met. Whoever has been elected president.