Labor legislation reform, housing benefit cuts, offensive against health care: the government's all-out attacks against workers

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
7 November 2017

The government wants to reduce housing-related spendings because they are too costly. One Minister recently declared: "At 18.5 billion euros, housing benefits represent half the national defense budget". So, the government wants to spend less… but it has neither reduced the army's budget nor cut down its orders to the arms industry. Rather, its plan is to cut the funding of social housing and various aids which help millions of people pay their rent.

The five-euro monthly reduction in housing aid announced last summer was enforced on October 1st. It affects many students and all those who spend more than 50% of their monthly budget on rent. The housing budget recently adopted by the government is 10% lower than the previous one and further reductions in housing aid are to be expected. Benefits could be reduced by 60 euros in some cases. The government argues that these new cuts will only apply to tenants living in social housing and that, in compensation, the government will make public housing authorities reduce rent. According to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, this measure "will have absolutely no effect on tenants". Just how can a measure reducing the state’s funding to social housing by 1.7 billion euros have “no effect”? He  doesn't say!

This cut will force some social housing authorities to postpone the building of new houses and apartment buildings which is already far below what is needed. Maintenance budgets will be reduced and the living conditions of all tenants will continue to deteriorate. In early 2018, over one hundred welfare agencies in charge of housing will be in deficit--like the social housing authority of Le Havre, whose previous mayor was none other than Edouard Philippe himself.

On top of all that, the government has announced that starting on January 1st, the way in which housing aid is calculated will be modified... so as to save more than one billion euros. All of these savings will be made at the expense of the workers, the unemployed, pensioners and those with the lowest income.

The government has also decided to postpone the general application of the third-party medical payment system[1]. The fee of many medical acts has skyrocketed since November 1st, which means that those who cannot advance the cost of medical treatment will not seek treatment at all.

To sum up, Macron is taking all the money he can from our pockets and giving it to the wealthy in general and the owners of big corporations in particular. So far, thanks to the slashing of the taxes on wealth, financial revenues and corporations, the government’s handouts to the rich have amounted to billions. Also, Macron’s executive orders redefining labor legislation will make it easier for the bosses to increase profits by aggravating the exploitation of workers.

Recently, the French Constitutional Court ruled that the levies of the special tax on dividends created in 2012 by Hollande’s government were to be reimbursed. To comply with the Court's decision, the present government  has created an “exceptional tax” on the profits of the 320 biggest companies in France. "This is totally unfair," whined a spokesman for the bosses’ union. The bosses are shameless. They dare complain while the total profit recorded in the first semester of 2017 by the 40 most lucrative French corporations is in excess of 50 billion euros!

The people who run these companies are real capitalists with real names like Dassault, Peugeot, Arnault and others. They form a social class. Macron and his ministers are waging a social war against all workers to help this bourgeois minority get even richer.

A number of unions and student organizations are calling for strike action and demonstrations on November 16. Let's use this opportunity to show our opposition to this government and its pro-business policy.

All wealth is created by workers. So, there is no reason for us to endure decisions that reinforce the accumulation of massive fortunes by a tiny minority of parasitic bourgeois individuals. 

[1] Third-party medical payment system: In France, medical bills are either paid directly to the doctor (first party) by the patient (second party) who can then seek reimbursement or sent by the doctor to health insurance companies and institutions (third party)—depending on the patient's type of medical coverage. The new system would generalize payment by a "third party"—which today covers a mere 35% of general practice cases.