After declaring €1.6 billion in profits for 2018, Michelin has decided to close its La-Roche-sur-Yon plant which employs 619 people. In Belfort, General Electric is adding 800 new layoffs to its downsizing plan. Less spectacular but just as revolting, thriving banks such as Société Générale and BNP Paribas are cutting thousands of jobs.
The story is the same everywhere. Michelin explains the closure of its La-Roche-sur-Yon plant by the global economic slowdown. The company says it’s the victim of its competitors. But whose jobs and wages are threatened? Who is forced to leave home, family, friends in the hope of keeping a job? And who is likely to end up in a line at some employment center?
The only real victims are those who were on Michelin’s payroll: blue-collar and white-collar workers, temporary workers and subcontractors’ employees. Michelin’s shareholders have nothing to fear. It’s a win-win situation for them: they were already receiving comfortable dividends, the closure of the plant will consolidate them!
Michelin’s decision was criticized by a local right-wing senator, Bruno Retailleau, who posed as a defender of working people. He said he regretted Michelin’s lack of respect for its employees and for local officials and deplored a lack of consultation. He should know better: capitalists don’t ask the workers’ permission before shutting down a plant or betraying their promises.
Crisis or no crisis, shareholders want to collect their dividends and increase their fortunes. They want the price of stocks to be permanently rising, even if it means that workers have to sweat more and more profits and are treated like interchangeable cogwheels!
Michelin’s decision is a clear reflection of the capitalist dictatorship over the working class and over society as a whole. To maintain their profits despite the crisis, a handful of shareholders are threatening the lives of several hundred families and the future of a city and a region. This capitalist dictatorship spells death for all of society.
And yet, society has never been so rich. The factories themselves have never been so efficient. What we are dying of is the race for profits and the fierce competition that is being waged at the expense of working people.
The employers’ greed can only increase in the face of the global slump and the uncertainties weighing on their business. The bourgeoisie will use any means necessary to protect itself from the economic disaster looming ahead.
The government proudly announced a 1.2% yearly growth. Yet, restructuring and job cuts are on the agenda of all private and public companies. Everywhere, workloads and work rates are extenuating the workforce and wages are blocked at scandalously low levels.
The automotive sector is anticipating a slowdown due to the global economic downturn. The atmosphere is very similar to that which prevailed before the 2008 crash.
Despite the billions of profits accumulated in recent years, the bosses are talking of budgets being exhausted, temporary workers being fired, entire shifts being eliminated and short-time working. At the same time, they push for crazy production speeds, more overtime, increased competitiveness and stepped up efficiency. In a situation where millions dread the spectre of unemployment, some workers are invited to think about joining another company, others are simply forced to resign.
This indicates that the big bosses are already organizing to make the exploited pay for the worsening crisis. The only way for us working people to avoid the coming disaster is to organize and be prepared to defend ourselves collectively.
There will be no escape from the crisis once it really hits. It will then reach all sectors and all countries.
Volkswagen has announced 7,000 job cuts and Nissan 12,500. Banks have planned 44,000 job losses... Throughout the world, workers are victims of the same capitalist dictatorship, the same greed, the same irresponsibility.
The only way out is for the working class to take the offensive. The bourgeoisie must be forced to back down and pay for the crisis of its system. But also, and above all, workers must challenge the capital-owners’ power over the economy. The only solution to the present madness is to overthrow the dictatorship of the capitalist class over the economy and over society as a whole.