Standing for our common interests on September 12 and after

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
10 September 2017

Last Friday, President Macron declared that he was “absolutely determined” to carry out his policy and wouldn’t back down before “the lazy, the cynical and the extremists”. He could hardly have been more blunt.

This was in sharp contrast with the presentation by Labor Minister Pénicaud and Prime Minister Philippe of the executive orders modifying the labor legislation. They had been very careful, explaining that the shock they were preparing against working people was for their own good. They even tried to convince people that bosses would hire more willingly if they could fire more easily. All of this was nothing but a smokescreen—as Macron himself later admitted.

Macron upholds the cause of capitalists to such an extent that he has the same class prejudices: the bosses boss the workforce and the president runs the country, so workers should be grateful to be exploited by such exceptional people. Well, on Tuesday, September 12, Macron, his masters and all those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth and enrich themselves by exploiting us must feel our utter opposition to the ruling classes’ vision of society.

We must seize this opportunity to voice our disapproval of the government’s anti-working class measures; our refusal of their executive orders which smash labor laws; our opposition to an increased CSG tax, to the suppression of 150,000 subsidized jobs and to the wage freeze affecting state employees… We must show our anger against a government which cuts down the personalized housing allowance of poorer people and at the same time suppresses 75% of the wealth tax with a stroke of the pen. Because the better off want to be able to satisfy their every whim, the state is preparing to make wage-earners, retirees and the jobless foot the bill.

Finally, we must expose the mounting pressure exerted by the bosses through production speed-ups, low wages, disciplinary measures, repression of those who refuse to bow down--in other words our aggravated exploitation and the increased profits of capital owners.

This protest deserves to be shared by all working people, whatever company we work for, whether we have a permanent or temporary contract, whether we work in the public or private sector. Our future depends not only on our capacity to fight back against every new attack launched by the government or the bosses but on a new balance of power established thanks to the mobilization of all working people for the defense of our common interests.

The war waged by this government and the bosses has only just started. There will be new attacks--for instance against the benefits of the unemployed or the pensions of railway workers, which are priority targets for the government. Over the last 25 years, the successive governments have eroded the retirement benefits of all by attacking one category after the other. We must refuse to be further divided.

Sooner or later, working people will stand up and fight back because there is no other way out. The sooner the better. If we do not stand here and now for our interests, we are going to pay it dearly. The bottomless greed of capital owners means that big corporations and banks must find a way to rake in huge profits despite the crisis. In order to do so, they have aggravated our exploitation and the government will make us pay whatever concession is made to the petty bourgeoisie. If we fail to defend our interests, the government might also make us a target for the anger of other social layers.

The workers side must appear to be strong and able to command respect. Working people are the only ones who can make the big bosses pay.

When Pénicaud and Philippe announced the executive orders, CFDT leader Berger whined, saying he had hoped for more, and FO leader Mailly boasted that his intervention had avoided worse decisions. As we get nearer the “day of action” organized by CGT, FSU and Solidaires, the media stress the unions’ disagreements. But in many workplaces, rank-and-file FO and CFDT militants have already decided to join the action. This is more than legitimate. We mustn’t wait for the union brass to change their mind before reacting.

Another “day of action” has been called by the CGT leadership for September 21. Our perspective now becomes the amplification and strengthening of the mobilization we so badly need to impose our common demands.