Less than three weeks away from the first round of an election which is often presented as decisive, many voters haven’t decided yet who they’re going to vote for. Disappointment is widely spread. In 2012, millions of workers voted for Hollande who promised to target finance. Five years later, the rich are better off than ever and there are one million more people on the dole.
Presidents come and go, the wealthy stay on and prosper. Dairy farmers are well aware of this. The CEO of Lactalis, Emmanuel Besnier, is now the eighth richest French person. In four years, his fortune has gone up from 4 to 10.5 billion euros. His brother and his sister also own a heap of cash, amounting to 4 billion euros each. This money was amassed by crushing the price of milk payed to dairy farmers, ruining them, and by over-exploiting each and every agro-business worker. The Besniers don’t need to run in elections. Confronted with angry farmers, the French Minister of agriculture explained that he had no way to get in touch with Mr. Besnier. What a give-away! This just about sums up the way society is organized: politicians gesticulate while capital owners make decisions.
The people of French Guiana do not expect anything from the future president. They are showing us that getting organized is what counts. In this vestige of France’s colonial empire, the contrast between the state-of-the-art installations of the Kourou Space Center and the people’s utter poverty is outrageous. For years, the inhabitants of Guiana, some of whom are without access to drinking water or electricity, were lulled by promises that were never kept. The on-going general strike has forced French ministers to cross the Atlantic and meet the people of Guiana. They have more promises in their briefcases and appear ready to give in to the demands of local bosses and not so much to workers’ claims. If workers want their interests to be satisfied, they need to get organized and fight for their class demands.
The same goes for us here. Irrespective of who is elected president on May 7, workers will have to fight to defend their interests. This is obvious from reading the main candidates’ programs. We are told that the second round will oppose Macron to Le Pen. Macron smiles like a dream boss, but his intention is to go further with the anti-worker policy he implemented as Hollande’s minister. He wants nothing less than to cut 120,000 public jobs, increase the CSG (Social Security Contribution) and aggravate the El Khomri law.
That’s why bosses and so many ex-ministers from the PS and the right are on his side! As for Le Pen, she keeps denouncing the system... only to protect it, just like Trump, her billionaire idol. Immigrants are the scapegoats she uses to divide the workers. Divide and rule, that’s the old trick that our exploiters play.
The 2017 election won’t change anything any more than the 2012 election did. What it really does is give us a chance to be heard. That’s the reason for Nathalie Arthaud’s candidacy. She defends the essential demands that the workers will have to impose through collective struggles.
To fight the scourge of unemployment, work must be shared out among all workers without any loss on wages. Layoffs and job cuts must be prohibited, starting with companies that are making a profit. It is unacceptable that multinationals like SFR or Sanofi cut jobs while making billions in profit.
To stop our standard of living from dropping, salaries and pensions must be increased by at least 300 euros per month. No one can live decently with less than 1,800 euros net per month. It’s the bare minimum.
Public money must be put into public services that are useful to the population. The billions that the state wastes by giving presents to the bosses should be used for hospitals, for schools in working-class areas, for quality public transport and for health centers in medical deserts.
To put an end to malpractice in the major companies, business secrecy must be banned. The recent health scandals – remember Servier’s Mediator, Sanofi’s Depakine or even the rigged motors in the automobile industry – make it quite clear: you can’t trust the big bosses. Workers must be able to make everything public so that the population can control what is done.
We can only obtain these demands by massive working-class struggles. But each and every one of us can make these demands heard now by voting for Nathalie Arthaud.