Prices are rising, purchasing power is decreasing.... Wages must be increased and linked to the cost of living!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 12, 2018

Macron said he wanted to meet the population. Well, he got what he asked for! Last week, all through his tour of northern and eastern France, he was attacked verbally by angry retirees and workers who blamed him for the increase in the CSG[1] and fuel taxes. No matter what he says about an alleged increase in purchasing power, workers know how to do basic maths and they know that it’s getting even harder to make ends meet!

Faced with discontent, Macron has had to announce a few measures such as the generalization of a transport allowance. But at only 20 euros per month and only applicable to employees whose workplace is more than 30 km from their home, this isn’t going to be much help to the few people who will qualify to receive it! To top it all, the government won’t spend a cent on this aid which will be paid for by regional councils.

Macron has also promised to "drastically" reduce the cost of driving licences and to create some kind of aid for the purchase of a first vehicle. But he’s been very careful not to specify how these measures would be financed. The state’s policy is the same today under Macron as it was under his predecessors: save billions at the expense of public services and impose sacrifices on the population in order to provide subsidies and tax gifts to the privileged bourgeois minority of big capital owners and top managers.

There is no guarantee that these measures will be implemented. But if they are, they’ll just add more measures to those which have already been taken by the government to have working people believe that it cares for them--like the "zero payment required" on dental care and optics, which will just result in workers paying more for health care insurance. The government’s refusal to take some of the profits and fortunes of the richest to finance these measures means that, at the end of the day, the bill is going to be paid by working people.

To defuse the general anger, the government might give in to the demands of the social categories that have made themselves heard, such as transport company bosses, construction companies, independent taxi drivers and, more recently, ambulance drivers. The bosses of these various enterprises are keen to defend their interests and they refuse to pay the price of the government's policy--which only benefits the most powerful capitalists who dominate the economy.

Working people too must mobilize to defend their own interests and demands! No one will do it for them! If they don’t, the government will make them pay for any concessions to other social categories.

Working people have a thousand and one reasons to mobilize on their own behalf. The regions visited by Macron are disaster-stricken. And this is not due to the consequences of World War I, but to the war waged by the capitalist class. This permanent war for profits is made even fiercer by the worsening crisis and it translates into layoffs, job insecurity and increased exploitation.

The present discontent specifically concerns the rise in fuel prices--and rightly so. But, the fact is that the price of everything else is increasing: fuel oil, gas, electricity, rents... Workers must mobilize and put forward their demands, starting with an increase in wages, pensions and allowances and their automatic alignment with the cost of living. This is the only way workers can protect themselves from employer and government policies.

Macron has shown some signs of worry, which demonstrates just how right are those who have recently expressed their dissatisfaction. But to further their interests, workers need to mobilize on their own ground and with their own class weapons. By doing so, workers will prevent any extreme right-wing organisation from driving their fight off course. The workers’ most powerful weapon is the strike because it makes it possible to block the economy and hit employers in their weak spot, the wallet. It is the one and only way of making the government back down.

[1] CSG (Contribution sociale généralisée) : a supplementary social security contribution created in 1991 by Rocard's Socialist government. It “extended” the tax base to include retirement and disability pensions, unemployment and early retirement benefits, etc. and provided for lesser contributions by the bosses. Its rate was increased over the years and is now bigger than income tax. It finances over 20% of all social security expenses and is paid mostly by workers themselves (over 90%).