A decent job and a decent wage for every worker!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 8, 2021

The government has decided to go ahead with its reform of unemployment insurance. The part of the text that reduces the amount workers receive when unemployed will come into effect on July 1. As an example, someone who loses their job after working for 8 months at the minimum wage will see the amount they receive drop from 970 € to 685 € per month.

Macron and his peers can’t imagine living on the minimum wage but they don’t mind stealing 100, 200, 300 € per month from the unemployed, right in the middle of a crisis, with more and more layoff plans and unemployment numbers skyrocketing!

Then we’ll hear them bemoaning mounting poverty. They’ll give out a bonus here and there, as if they’re a charity. But workers aren’t asking for handouts, they want to earn a living from their job!

There’s so much contempt, so much violence in this. The violence of this society can’t be denied. It’s obvious in how workers can’t earn a decent living; it’s obvious in the endless deprivation; in the guilt and the stress of depending on welfare or charity. It’s also apparent in not being able to see any future but poverty.

Every day, we hear about the despair felt by restaurant owners deprived of their clients and artistes deprived of their public. They talk about how unfair they feel it is that they’re not allowed to do their job. But that’s exactly what’s happening to millions of unemployed workers!

Shopkeepers and professionals in the cultural world are being stopped from working by government decree. Workers are deprived of a job due to decisions made by big bosses. It’s unfair and unacceptable in both cases.

The difference between the two is that layoffs, short-term contracts being terminated and companies closing down are all commonplace in the normal functioning of capitalism. French labor law and all the regulations allow big bosses to get rid of workers when they no longer need them. Masters in their own home, they can fire the workers they consider to be insufficiently productive. They can rearrange the workload so that one employee does the work of two.

This is truer than ever during this crisis. Renault, Michelin, Nokia, Airbus, Sanofi, Total, ADP… the list of big companies laying people off keeps getting longer.

And now Stellantis (the group formed by the merger of Peugeot and Fiat) has joined the list. Last week, the CEO announced that the next car engine won’t be built in its Douvrin plant in the North of France. The plant’s death warrant has been signed.

Peugeot shareholders are currently sharing the equivalent of 2.5 billion € while threatening 1 500 workers with the loss of their livelihood, in a former coal-mining area devastated by unemployment and reeling from the closure of Bridgestone.

Even though they have been fed billions by the government, even though they have immense wealth, capitalist owners are merciless to the working class!

We must refuse being driven into poverty for the sake of the profits and stock prices of a minority of parasites. The only choice we have is to defend ourselves collectively.

Layoffs must cease and unemployment must be tackled seriously. To do that, there’s only one solution: share work out among all working people and with no wage cuts. And if there’s less work or if the company is changing what it does, work must be reorganized so that it’s shared out among all workers. And the same goes for the state–there are thousands of useful jobs to be created in hospitals, state-run retirement homes and in education. It’s in the interests of workers and of society as a whole to slow down work speed and reduce the number of hours worked so that all jobs are kept and more people can be hired.

A job and a wage are the only riches of those exploited in this society. Everyone should have them: young and old, women and men, unskilled and highly-qualified, handicapped and able, those who have a French ID card and those who don’t.

We’ll only obtain this collectively and at the cost of a fierce struggle against the capitalist class. And we have the ability to do it.

By working, we do more than just make a living for ourselves. We produce all the riches. We create the profits, the capital, the incredible fortunes that a minority appropriates. We are the foundation of all society. This not only legitimizes imposing our interests on those of the parasitic class that dominates society, it also means that we have the resources to reverse the balance of power.