For a month, French President Macron has been his usual arrogant self, treating the yellow vests' anger with contempt. But, on Monday, he finally deigned to pronounce a few fine words and make a few concessions.
One hundred euros more for someone earning the minimum wage? Macron has promised that it won't cost employers a cent. In other words, the state will pay, which means that the money will come from the working classes in the form of duties and taxes. Overtime will be exempt from tax and social contributions? Former French President Sarkozy, another one who served the rich, did the same thing. The bosses' union, the Medef, loves this measure because it means they don't need to hire anyone.
A special year-end bonus? As usual, it will be at the capitalists' discretion.
The CSG increase? This outrageous measure is only dropped for a few retirees and nothing will change for those on a pittance. Nor will anything change for the unemployed or the handicapped.
Wealth tax? It won't be reinstated and the rich can sleep in peace.
For the working class to start living instead of surviving, to make ends meet instead of being in the red, it is the big bosses who need to be targeted. And there is no way Macron will dare question the interests of capitalists! His policy is dictated by the capitalist class, a class he showers with billions in subsidies and tax credits and which is invited to help itself from the state coffers...
The government can promise to lighten a tax here, to suppress a raise there. It can concoct an exceptional bonus for employees that won’t cost much to those bosses who agree to pay it, since it will be offset by new exemptions from social contributions for them. These measures will be paid for by the working classes because they will result in the degradation of public services and the decline of social benefits. All this amounts to putting some money into our left pocket by taking it out of our right pocket. In order to keep pouring billions of public money into the pockets of the wealthy, the government will find a way to make the working class pay, while claiming that it is making concessions.
The determination of tens of thousands of protesters has forced the government to make a small move. Their mobilisation has been more efficient than the ritual consultations, and the yellow vests who want to keep fighting are right!
Workers should be inspired by this example, and start carrying the fight into their workplaces, a fight for wage rises. The Macron government repeats the same lies as its predecessors: if you ask for a decent wage, you will cause the ruin of small businesses and increase unemployment.
But what ruins small businesses is the weight of big capital, of the banks and corporations who impose the rules of the game. What ruins the small craftsman, the small shopkeeper, is precisely the collapse of the purchasing power of the workers!
Salaries have been frozen for years and layoffs are announced every week. Happychic, which belongs to the Mulliez empire, has just announced a plan axing 466 jobs. Ford wants to close its plant in Blanquefort and leave 1,000 workers on the ground. The closure of Sandvik's plant in the Indre-et-Loire department is about to turn 161 employees out. Those companies are rich, very rich. For them, restructuring and firing workers is just a way to make even bigger profits.
In 2017, the companies in the CAC 40 – the 40 biggest companies on the Paris stock exchange – distributed 44.3 billion euros of dividends to their shareholders. Those masses of money were produced by the exploitation of our work. Those billions must come back to us! Rather than financing speculation or the whims of the rich, they must be used for general wage increases, including in small businesses.
Roux de Bézieux, the president of the Medef – France's main employers' association – recently declared : "I would not want this tax revolt to transform itself into business being put on trial". His statement sums up the fears of the true masters of society, their fear of seeing the workers hold their heads high. Let’s make sure that their fears are justified!
Workers need to make their voices heard in the climate of social protest opened by the yellow vests, a climate now reinforced by high-school pupils and students demonstrating for a better future.
In their workplaces, where they meet every day in their tens, hundreds or thousands, workers can discuss and organize. This is where they are in a position of strength.
To engage in the fight, to go on strike for a general increase in wages, pensions and benefits, and for their indexation on prices: this is the only way for the working class to fight for its future. It’s also the only way for the whole of society to loosen the grip of the dictatorship of capital on the economy.