Politicians on the campaign trail and working people under attack

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 1, 2019

This year, in France, the end of the so-called “winter truce” which prevents housing evictions during the winter months fell on Sunday, March 31. According to Fondation Abbé Pierre (a French charity fighting homelessness), the number of people evicted has increased by 46% in ten years. In 2017, more than 15,500 households were evicted by law enforcement intervention. The charity also pointed out that having a job "no longer protects against the risk of losing one's home" because jobs are more and more insecure and poorly paid.

As for the decisions announced by the government the next day, they sounded like a distasteful April Fool's joke! The 0.3% increase of several social benefits is far from compensating the current inflation rate and no one dared call it a “boost” to purchasing power.

This was the situation when the government's troops began campaigning for the upcoming European Parliamentary elections. Nathalie Loiseau, the former minister of European Affairs, has put on her candidate’s outfit and filled her attaché case with the speeches and promises that go with it. Meanwhile, working people find it increasingly difficult to live a decent life in a society where working and living conditions are permanently under attack.

The declining school budgets have sent tens of thousands of teachers and parents marching in protest. Other public sector workers are also threatened as the government has maintained its objective of cutting 120,000 jobs. In an attempt at summarizing the spirit of the reform presented last week, Public Accounts Minister Darmanin said that "the state must be a better human resources director". What he wants is the freedom to hire more precarious workers and to compel workers to move where they're needed or to lose their job.

This reform came in the wake of the never-ending campaign against the so-called "privileges" of civil servants. In a world run by businessmen and the governments at their service, this is how the attacks launched against a category of workers are justified. The setbacks already imposed on some are used to impose the same sacrifices on others by governments who pretend to act in the name of justice!

Concerning pensions, more and more members of the government openly declare that sooner or later the retirement age will have to be raised to 65… to safeguard the pay-as-you-go pension system for future generations, of course! The fact is that many workers are unemployed when they reach the current retirement age of 62. By delaying the retirement age, the government would actually save money on the backs of pensioners by paying them reduced pensions.

The government says its past, present and future attacks are merely weapons in the ongoing war for jobs.  But the war waged by the big corporations, those that announce billions in profits, consists in cutting as many jobs as they can. The closures of the Ford factory in Blanquefort and the Arjowiggins paper mills in the regions of Sarthe and Aisne and the job cut plans at Castorama and Carrefour mean that hundreds of workers and their families will be facing social disaster.

The capitalist economy is bogged down in a permanent crisis. It is the intensified exploitation, the spreading of unemployment and job insecurity that allow the big bourgeoisie to continue to increase its profits. The billions they stash away in bank vaults are not meant to be invested in the productive sector. No, that money will increase the flow of speculation and the threat of a new stock market crash on a global scale.

We are asked to believe that the campaign is basically between two sides: one led by politicians like Bardella, Le Pen's protegé, or Salvini, who are openly xenophobic, use a nationalist rhetoric and pretend to rise up against the "Brussels dictatorship"; and another which calls itself “progressive”, with leaders who support Europe, such as Merkel or Macron. But both sides are lying to us!

In both cases, the speeches are delivered by politicians serving the interests of big business. It is the bourgeoisie that is to blame for this unstable Union designed to serve its interests. The same bourgeoisie will hide behind its national state when it is good for its profits. Workers can’t accept this fake choice between pro- and anti-European Union politicians. That would lead them into a deadlock, because it hides the only real opposition in this society: the opposition between the exploited and their exploiters.

Lutte ouvrière’s list will be led by Nathalie Arthaud and Jean-Pierre Mercier. Our candidates will highlight the need to challenge the bourgeoisie's domination over the economy. They will stand for the idea that asserting the demands of the working class as opposed to big business is the only useful gesture that working people can make with their voting slip.