Enough with electoral promises: workers need a plan to fight back!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
September 20, 2021

Here we go again… The presidential campaign has begun and promises are literally raining down. Promises to… increase wages, create jobs, renationalize the highways, re-industrialize the country, as well as reactionary promises related to lack of security and national identity. To gather a maximum of votes, politicians are ready to promise anything and everything.

There’s an avalanche of promises because there’s an ever-growing number of “superhero” candidates, both on the left and on the right. It even looks as though far-right journalist Eric Zemmour, with his racist logorrhea, might take the lead over Marine Le Pen.

How sickening! The politicians promising huge changes all belong to parties which have been in power or which, today, are in charge of towns, departments and regions where they don’t even seek to apply one tenth of what they promise. On the contrary, whatever institutional seat they occupy, at whatever level and on whatever scale, they behave like any exploiter.

The public sector workers employed by regional, departmental or municipal authorities are learning this the hard way. They are under attack by both left-wing and right-wing politicians set on implementing the “Transformation of Civil Service” law which increases their overall annual worktime.

Working-class women and men are well placed to know that they can only rely on themselves. Temporary workers who are fired overnight and live in permanent job-insecurity know something about it, as do disabled people and single-parent families – often women who take care of their children alone.

This is also true of workers confronted with plant closures, for example those employed in foundries, which are closing one by one. This is true of Renault and Airbus employees who are threatened by thousands of layoffs.

In the automobile industry, because of the shortage in electronic chips, employers impose weeks of partial unemployment. With the result that workers, who are in no way responsible for the shortage, end up with a wage-cut and they lose their days off. What do the smooth-talking potential candidates have to say about this? Nothing at all, whereas Toyota, Renault and Stellantis-PSA should use the profits they’ve made to fully guarantee workers’ wages!

Yes, in the face of employer attacks such as job cuts, faster working paces and frozen wages, workers can only count on themselves. Enough with empty promises, enough with fairy tales!

Increasing wages, indexing them on real inflation and not on that officially calculated by the government is a question of class struggle! Creating jobs, sharing out the workload instead of over-burdening those who do have a job will also have to be imposed against the will of the capitalists.

It’s our interests against theirs, our jobs and our wages against their profits, our working conditions against their sinecures. As long as the class war is waged by the bourgeoisie alone, with no response from the working class, money will go into the pockets of the billionaires, only to be wasted in luxury items and speculation. So what the working class needs isn’t electoral promises, but a plan to fight back.

The only prospect for workers is to organize and act collectively to reverse the balance of power. This can only happen through massive struggles. We can’t defend ourselves, let alone gain anything, without demonstrations, strikes and factory occupations involving the whole working class.

Though the electoral circus is now occupying center stage, we must refuse to remain silent and in the shadows. The workers’ anger must be expressed, their interests must be voiced. Tuesday, October 5, a “day of action” called for by CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires is an opportunity to be seized. The trade unions have formulated no specific claims and offer no fighting prospects beyond that day, which will limit the impact of their initiative. Still, we can use it to discuss what would be necessary to stop the employers' offensive.

It will also be an opportunity to discuss everything that’s wrong in this society run by a profiteering and irresponsible minority, while the toiling majority suffers.

No election will put an end to exploitation, to the class struggle. The presidential election will not change anything about the way capitalism works. This system condemns us to crises, to the plundering and destruction of the planet, and also to economic wars which are often the first step towards wars pure and simple. This system cannot be balanced or regulated; we must overthrow it. And it’s up to the workers, to all those who are currently poorly paid, despised and humiliated, to change this social order.

I will run in the presidential campaign to defend this perspective. Those who share it will be able to affirm that the future belongs to the working class, and that the only worthwhile program is a program to fight back.

Nathalie Arthaud