Job insecurity and capitalist profits are on the increase. Employment isn't!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 19, 2019

After last week's release of unemployment figures showing a 0.2% decline compared to the beginning of the year, Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud told the media: "We have the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years. Our reforms are bearing fruit."

The satisfaction displayed by Pénicaud--who was formerly Danone's HR Director—for such a derisory result shows that she is just another run-of-the-mill minister serving the interests of big business and the rich.

The number of officially registered unemployed is perhaps decreasing, but the pressure of unemployment on workers’ lives is greater than ever before. In July, not a week went by without companies announcing a new plan to cut jobs. Tati, Carrefour, General Electric Belfort, and many others that didn't make the headlines, threatened to sack thousands of workers in the coming weeks. Several million women and men are still deprived of a real job, forced to live in permanent insecurity by carrying out temporary assignments, fixed-term contracts and small jobs of all kinds without earning enough to live properly.

The government talks about fighting against unemployment but it has no intention of doing anything to stop job losses. Quite the opposite. Like their predecessors, Macron and his ministers focused on making it easier and cheaper for employers to lay off workers.

The state itself is cutting jobs in public services, education.... In old people’s homes and hospitals, due to staff shortages, the situation is becoming increasingly catastrophic. There are more and more emergency services on strike to demand additional resources.

The government doesn’t want to act on unemployment: it’s too busy attacking the benefits of the unemployed! Administrative pressures and hassles have increased. According to official statistics, 45,000 people were removed from the unemployment lists last July, an increase of 12.8% over the previous quarter. 

This summer, the government imposed a "reform" of unemployment insurance which will reduce--and in some cases eliminate—the benefits received by those in the most precarious situations. The "reform" is aimed not only at saving hundreds of millions on the backs of the unemployed, but also at forcing them to accept ever lower paid jobs.

The bosses’ greed was exposed once again by a recent protest organized by the cyclists who deliver meals for Deliveroo. They are all "self-employed", have no social security coverage and are totally dependant on the Deliveroo platform, which sets its rates and can change them at will. Several hundred deliverers joined the action, demanding better wages. A similar action has been going on for over a month in a Paris suburb hotel. Chambermaids at the Ibis Clichy-Batignolles hotel are demanding better working conditions and salaries from the sub-contracting company used by Accor, the world leader in the tourist accommodation and catering industry.

In recent years, the capitalist class and the successive governments serving their interests have aggravated exploitation, eliminated steady jobs and massively created precarious jobs in order to guarantee increasing profits in a context marked by business stagnation and market saturation. A small number of billionaires—like Arnault, CEO of LVMH and shareholder of Carrefour, Bettencourt Meyers, heiress of L'Oréal, Mulliez owner of the Auchan and Décathlon brands, among others—literally owe their fortune to the general increase of layoffs and lower wages.

The whole of society is paying more and more dearly for the greed of the capitalist class that dominates the economy. The workers, who represent those who keep the whole jet-society alive and running, are the only force capable of overthrowing the bourgeoisie and reorganizing the economy on a collective basis.

It will then be possible to use the existing wealth and the technological progress to come in order to guarantee that everyone has a job and living conditions worthy of the means available in the 21st century.