The only good plan for workers is a collective struggle

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 14, 2020

The ceremonies on July 14 in Paris were dedicated to health workers and more generally to those who helped keep society running at the peak of the epidemic. ‘Frontline’ workers can indeed feel proud of everything they did. The same cannot be said of the state, of Macron and of the government, who failed from start to finish.

State neglect and government lies about the epidemic remain in everyone's mind. We won’t forget that medical staff were sent to the front without protection. We won’t forget that the old people’s homes were abandoned. We won’t forget about the lack of masks, hospital beds, respirators and medicine.

The authorities are good at organizing parades, awarding medals and blowing a lot of hot air! But the government proved unable to organize economic and social life to meet the vital needs of society. For one simple reason: it is trained to put profits, profitability and the financial markets above everything else – a fundamental choice that, in matters of public health, leads to lethal, unforgivable consequences.

With 30,000 dead, the criminal results of the purely financial management of hospitals is blatant. The summit between Health Ministry officials and a number of representatives of medical staff, though it lasted for days on end, hasn’t changed much at all. In hospitals, things are back on their “abnormal track”, as health workers now put it. Those among them who counter-demonstrated on July 14 are absolutely right: a pay rise of 183 euros is way below the 300 euros they were asking for to catch up what’s been lost in purchasing power over the past ten years. So they won’t be silenced!

In fact, none of us should keep silent – for we won't change anything without a collective fight. The government and big business won’t give us the money that is necessary for hospitals, nursing homes, schools or transport unless we go and get it!

The workers will have no choice but to revive their fighting traditions. It is a vital necessity. To recover what they have lost due to the crisis, capitalists are leading an all-out attack: laying off temporary workers, cutting jobs, lowering wages, closing down factories and shops. They are threatening the workers’ very living conditions – with Macron as their accomplice.

In the interview he gave on July 14, Macron assured, like all presidents before him, that employment was his priority. What a comedian! The long-term partial activity scheme which will cost the state 30 billion euros is, according to him, a vaccine against job cuts – "an anti-dismissal plan” he called it. Seriously… Here is a magical plan that has failed to save 4,600 jobs at Renault, 1,000 at Sanofi, 5,000 at Airbus, 7,600 at Air France. It hasn’t prevented the closure of the Smart factory in Hambach either, nor has it saved Vivarte stores from shutting down. But who cares? Macron’s as self-satisfied as ever!

He also praised his recovery plan as one capable of boosting employment and the so-called ‘ecological transition’. Another bad joke. His plan will surely feed billions and billions to capital owners; it will surely empty the public coffers for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, of financiers and speculators. That is the only recovery to be expected from his policy!

Macron will help big business to restore its profits through a series of tax cuts, loans and subsidies. He will justify every measure taken by the bourgeoisie, including the dismissal of thousands of workers, thrown overnight into hardship and even misery. That is Macron’s job. That’s his sacred mission – a mission he is determined to pursue.

Sure, to deal with the ongoing economic and social catastrophe, a production plan is needed. There should be a plan for the production of medicine, for the construction and renovation of flats and houses… But, in this class-ridden society, where the bourgeoisie has absolute power over the economy, government plans can only serve to further enrich those who are rich already.

The only plan that works for the exploited is one that allows them to keep the only thing they have: a job and the salary that goes with it. No one should lose their job. No one should be pushed into poverty. Whether they are temporary workers, fixed-term contract workers, apprentices, trainees or self-employed workers, all workers know their jobs and need to keep them: work must be distributed among all without loss of pay.

The crisis hasn’t reduced rents. Bills haven’t gone down and the prices of some products have soared, so workers need to be paid their full wages.

Workers can’t survive on promises, they need proper food on the table every day, for themselves and their families. They can only make sure of this by adopting their own plan, a plan to fight the job destroyers and the government that serves them.