In a few days, we’ll be electing Members of the European Parliament. The government parties tell us that voting for their list will be a “useful” vote. Some claim that a “useful” vote is one against the Macron list and for the Bardella-Le Pen list which promises it will help workers… by dividing them, setting French people against foreigners. If you believe the others, a “useful” vote is one against Le Pen and therefore a vote for the Macronite list.
We don’t have to choose between them. Vote for Macron, the president of the rich? No way! Vote for Le Pen who struts around in Italy in the company of all the xenophobic and anti-worker leaders of Europe, e.g. those in power in Austria who have allowed bosses to compel their employees work up to 60 hours per week? Out of the question!
In every election, the government parties exhort workers to vote for them. But they all come from the same place: they don’t question the economic system we live in. The real decisions in this system aren’t taken in the elections but by the richest bourgeois families and in the boardrooms of major companies. You only have to look at the current layoff plans: Carrefour has announced around 3,000 layoffs; Auchan (owned by the Mulliez family who increased its fortune by 25% last year) is selling 21 shops and cutting 800 jobs; multinational Ford is closing its Blanquefort plant and laying off its 800 workers. In all three cases, neither the European nor the French parliament was consulted! The capitalists’ economic dictatorship is not the least bit interested in elections and the elected.
Elections can’t change workers’ lives. Particularly the election for the European parliament: does anyone even know what difference that parliament makes? But elections do give us a chance to say what we think. Abstaining means letting other people say whatever they want instead of saying what we want. We mustn’t let anyone steal our vote.
The only useful vote for workers is a vote for the working class. In the May 26 ballot, voting for the Lutte ouvrière list, led by Nathalie Arthaud and Jean-Pierre Mercier, will allow voters to express their class identity loud and clear.
All its candidates are workers, technicians, railroad workers, teachers, etc. They all know what it’s like to live with low wages or pensions. They know all about speed-ups, staggered hours, job insecurity and continual restructuring.
The list advocates a general increase in wages, pensions and allowances and for them to be linked to prices. No worker should earn a monthly wage of less than 1,800 euros before tax.
The government claims that unemployment is decreasing but 5.6 million people are registered in unemployment offices. The only way to tackle this scourge is to ban layoffs and distribute the work among all workers. It’s unacceptable that companies making a profit should get rid of workers.
We’re told that there’s no money for the state-owned retirement homes (Ehpad), for hospital emergency rooms and public services. And yet there are people who can pull 100 or 200 million euros out of their pocket when it comes to restoring Notre-Dame [i]. There certainly is money in our society. But, contrary to what Macron says, it’s not trickling from top to bottom, it’s being pumped from bottom to top. Workers must therefore be able to audit company accounts and private fortunes.
It will take massive and powerful struggles by the working class to impose these demands. Big business must be challenged and expropriated. An election can’t do that but it does, however, give us the chance to state clearly that we belong to the working class and that we are determined to stand up against the dictatorship of big business. The Lutte ouvrière list is the only one that says that workers, thanks to whom the whole of society can function, must assert their material and political demands. It’s the only list that says that the workers must be in charge of society, must organize it and make it work for the needs of the community and not for a minority of privileged people.
Vote for Lutte ouvrière on May 26.
[i] A fire recently damaged the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. See the April 22, 2019 Lutte ouvrière workplace newsletter.