Workers’ deadly foe vs a lackey for capital owners

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
1 May 2017

In the runup to the second round, the two presidential hopefuls are scrambling to find new allies. Macron is now backed by a “sacred union” that includes Valls and Hollande, Fillon and Sarkozy and has Borloo making a comeback! Le Pen has just reached an agreement with the unpredictable Dupont-Aignan and has used this as an excuse for changing her program: she no longer wants France to leave the eurozone. If she were elected, she would most certainly also change her present views concerning the 35-hour week and retirement at age 60 (which she now says should be maintained). Only die-hard believers are fooled by this type of election-time demagogy.

Last week, to strengthen her image as the ordinary folks’ candidate, she was in Amiens for a selfie photo op with the workers of a Whirlpool plant which is due to shut down in a year from now.

This plant employs only a small fraction of the 1,200 workers who were on the payroll in the 1980’s. The output has nevertheless been increased thanks to a succession of speed-ups that caused more workplace accidents and work-related illnesses. Whirlpool’s management forced workers to work on Saturdays without compensation in time. Last year, Whirlpool’s profits reached 850 million euros. Of course, Le Pen never said anything against any of this because she grovels before the all-powerful capital-owners!

The measures she puts forward are ridiculous. Taxing imports? But that would mean increased prices here, higher customs duties abroad and higher unemployment in the French export sector.

If things are left in the hands of the newly-elected president, the Amiens plant will shut down, just like the Florange steel plant was closed down despite the promises made by Hollande during the 2012 presidential campaign. The 290 workers who make Whirlpool dryers will be laid off and production transferred to Poland where workers are paid 400 euros per month. Whirlpool will increase its profits even more and the company’s shareholders will make obscene amounts of money.

Macron, the former banker, doesn’t want to make things difficult for Whirlpool’s owners. He talks about training, reclassification and new jobs, but that’s hot air, coming from a man who wants to cut 120,000 jobs in the public sector!

Voters are officially asked to choose between these two smooth talkers. What a choice!

Le Pen may be trying to show how respectable she is but she is a worthy representative of the xenophobic, homophobic and antisemitic far right, just like her father, FN ex-president, who is quite capable of denying the use of gas chambers by the Nazis.

She calls on French people to vote for her but at the same time sets them against foreign people. In other words, she pits workers against other workers. As president, she would start by making things more difficult for foreigners, then for French citizens of foreign origin and finally for all workers! Allowing her to attack the most vulnerable among us is to accept her later attacks against all of us.

Le Pen’s regime would be harder on the unions and on the associations that would not do her bidding. FN municipalities are already doing this locally: they are known to have denied premises and grants from going to useful organizations like the Secours populaire and the Restos du Cœur.

Let’s leave the Le Pen vote to bourgeois haters of the poor, racist policemen and those who are nostalgic for French Algeria! Workers who vote for Le Pen are voting against themselves!

As for Macron, his dedication to the capitalist class is boundless. As a minister, he carried through a law which generalized work on Sundays, made it easier for bosses to lay off workers and more difficult for workers to take management to court. He also inspired the more antiworker aspects of the El Khomri law such as limiting the amount of money that could be granted in compensation by a labor relations tribunal. Worker protest was such that the government had to remove this section of the law. But Macron is intent to carry on. He has declared that in order to avoid a parliamentary debate, he would impose these measures by ordinance if need be. He has also made it clear that he wants to dismantle the Labor Code, increase the Generalized Social Contribution tax and practically suppress wealth tax. No wonder the Stock Exchange rose to new heights after the first round!

For the second round, workers are asked to choose between two evils. This is blackmail pure and simple. Consequently, Nathalie Arthaud and the members of Lutte ouvrière will cast a blank vote.

Hollande’s successor will be an outright enemy of the working class. Workers must therefore be prepared to defend their interests with the weapons of class struggle. We must not allow anyone to create a gap between French and foreign workers, between the unemployed and those who have a job. We need to rebuild a party that upholds our class interests if we are to fight back against whoever is the next occupant of the Elysée Palace.