The government has its recovery plan, workers need to have their own plan of action

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 20, 2020

In an interview on July 14, Macron announced a stimulus package of at least 100 billion euros. Half that sum will go to reducing company tax and the rest to various subsidies and social contribution exemptions. Hospitals will receive a paltry six billion. In other words, the stimulus package will be another jackpot for major companies. And the state’s going to give the bill to the taxpayers, that is to say to the workers.

It’s the height of summer and major capitalist companies are still getting rid of their workers. Airbus, Vivarte, Nokia, Renault, Air France and its subsidiary Hop! are cutting thousands of jobs. Mercedes-Benz, one of the richest groups in the world, wants to close its Smart manufacturing plant in the east of France. The state is allowing companies like Renault to close down plants, all the while hand-feeding them public money! Even Sanofi, whose medication sales have soared during the pandemic, is cutting jobs. There are currently 200 restructuring plans in France.

Big companies are consolidating their profits and even increasing them. They’re continuing to pay out the record profits they made last year and they couldn’t care less about Macron’s calls for them to exercise restraint. Stock market prices are on their way up again.

The working class, however, is hard hit by the crisis: temporary and short-term contract workers have been fired, there are hundreds of thousands more unemployed, tenants have been evicted, families are driven to rely on food aid, youngsters finishing up school or leaving the school system have no prospects...

The government has its economic recovery plan and the European Union is currently looking for one. he workers’ primary interest in the current situation is to start fighting again. The government postponed its pension reform because of the strikes and demonstrations last December and January. It wants to avoid sparking off more protest. The message is clear: if we don’t want to be hit hard, we need to make them fear us!

The government has its plan of action and the workers’ must have their own. It’s unacceptable for workers to lose their jobs and for youngsters just starting out to be unemployed while others are worn out by work. To deal with the drastic rise in unemployment, work must be shared out, with no loss of wages. Where will the money come from? The top 40 companies on the French stock market alone made 80 billion euros in profit last year: that money should be used to keep and create the jobs that are needed!

The only solution that the government has found is to help companies. But major companies aren’t creating jobs, they’re cutting them and it’s unacceptable that they should receive public funding. Hospitals have just come through an unprecedented crisis, retirement homes don’t have the human or practical resources they need, nor do schools or universities, and there isn’t enough public transport. Public finances must be used for public services that are useful to the population. If any “stimulus package” is needed, it should go to that!

Public finances must also be used by the state to directly build affordable housing for all and to improve insulation in homes and make them more energy-efficient.

None of this can be achieved without a fight. There’s only one language that the big bosses and the government understand: that of power struggle. And you don’t find it in ministerial offices during so-called “social dialog” meetings. You find it in class struggles. Several workers’ union leaders were very happy after their meeting with Prime Minister Castex last week. But nothing can be expected from this kind of meeting. The only thing we can expect from Castex is a beating. He’s a right-wing, high-ranking civil servant who’s been put where he is to implement Macron’s policies, policies that benefit the capitalists.

The economic crisis is absolutely not the workers’ fault. If they don’t want to pay for it, they have to get ready to defend their interests with massive and determined fights. Let’s use the summer break to get ready, it’s the only valid prospect for when we go back to work.