Workers must fight for their right to a decent existence in this savage capitalist society

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 27, 2020

There will be no summer break for job cuts. Every week more and more workers are losing their jobs. Disaster is looming for hundreds and thousands of working men and women and their families but that hasn’t stopped President Macron and his cabinet from boasting about their latest measures or claiming that they will save our jobs. The government is incapable of preventing job cuts today, how will they save them tomorrow?

After putting on a show in front of the cameras for Bastille Day1 on July 14th, Macron was at it again last week. This time he praised the European Union’s 750-billion-euro economic recovery plan. “We fought over it, but we got it”, he boasted triumphantly before pointing out that the money handed out by the European Union would be used to finance 40% of the national stimulus package. Two days later, his prime minister, Jean Castex, did the same thing as he proclaimed that the government’s “Youth Plan” was “unprecedented”. Really? As if exempting employers from social security contributions when they hire young workers – even on a three-month fixed contract – were a revolutionary measure and not what it really is: yet another gift offered to the bosses who are satisfied with the way their union (MEDEF) is sticking up for them.

Handing out billions of public money to the capitalist class is nothing new: it was done during the 2008 crisis. Guaranteeing workers’ jobs wasn’t a priority then and it isn’t one now. All that’s ever been guaranteed is capitalist profits.

The government’s different recovery packages which are supposed to boost the economy, youth employment and preserve the environment are in no way “historic”. If anything is “historic” it’s the extent to which the crisis is hitting the working class and threatening to diminish their working and living conditions like never before.

Few working families are spared. Tens of thousands of workers who suffer from job instability, are stuck in short-term contracts, do temp work or are self-employed have already lost their income. On top of that, major companies have announced plans to cut more jobs. This will also have a knock-on effect on those who are employed by subcontracting companies, on local businesses and on the economic and social activity of entire regions.

Employers are already giving those who are lucky enough to stay on the payroll a taste of what’s to come: they’ll have to accept harder working conditions and lower wages. Last week, the automotive supplier Valeo unveiled a 100-million-euro savings plan which will be carried out at the workers’ expense. They didn’t even promise that jobs would be safe. After getting rid of 2,000 temporary workers, management now wants to force a wage freeze and fewer vacation days on remaining employees. They intend to impose longer working hours for supervisors and night shifts on production lines as they see fit.

No worker, whether engineer or factory worker, hired full time or stuck going from one job to the next, is safe in the war the capitalists have declared to keep their profits up in spite of their failing system. Their attacks against the working class are dragging the whole of society backwards.

After a shooting in Nice, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, seeking to please far-righters, spoke of how society is becoming “increasingly savage”. He promised to implement measures that would restore order. This sort of talk won’t do anything to stop living conditions from getting worse in working-class neighborhoods. The violence, rude, the disorderly conduct and the drug-trafficking that poison the daily lives of residents in working-class neighborhoods are a by-product of unemployment and increasing poverty. The savagery of this society resides in the fact that the capitalist system is incapable of providing millions of working people with a decent job and salary.

Workers must defy the capitalists’ logic and that of the governments which serve the ruling class and set their own objectives. To prevent unemployment, work must be distributed among all without loss of wages. Public money must also be used to create the millions of jobs that are lacking in hospitals, schools, public transport and care services for the elderly, and to build the millions of comfortable and affordable homes we need. Private companies should not be made a cent richer.

This will require a collective and determined struggle and the whole working class must partake in the fight. It’s the only way to protect ourselves from capitalism and its depths of despair.

1 Bastille Day is France’s national holiday. It is celebrated on July 14th, the day when the Bastille prison was stormed during the French Revolution in 1789.