It’s time to stop the capitalists and government from robbing the poor to give to the rich

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
October 25, 2021

After weeks of thinking things over and making calculations, the government has opted for an “inflation-compensatory check” of 100 euros for those who earn less than 2 000 euros a month. As if workers were begging for government handouts!

Granting a one-time only check of 100 euros, when we need an extra 300, 400 or 500 euros on our payslip every month, is sheer provocation. When you work from morning to night, when you sacrifice your health and your family life for work, the least you’re entitled to is a salary that allows you to live decently and not just survive.

And yet wages in both the private and the public sector have been not just too low but frozen for years. Big bosses have been trying to hide the problem of insufficient wages by handing out bonuses that, by definition, come and go. The increase in energy prices shows that this can’t go on any longer.

With this check, the government admits that with less than 2 000 euros a month, you can’t make ends meet. So, it’s as clear as day: no monthly wage should be below 2 000 euros!

The situation is just crazy. Workers are finding it more and more difficult to pay their rent or mortgage, to heat their ho mes, to fill up their gas tanks while they are the ones who produce all the wealth. Why is that? Because profits and dividends come first! Because exploitation has increased considerably, allowing the capitalist class to accumulate extravagant fortunes at the expense of an impoverished working class.

Every time we go to the gas station, the state empties our wallets as 60% of the price of gasoline is made up of taxes. But the heaviest levy is that of exploitation, the process by which big bosses grab all the wealth we produce and appropriate the fruit of our labor.

To refuse salary increases, big bosses invoke “competitiveness” and the so called “cost of labor”. What a lie! And how typical of them! Our work doesn’t cost them a dime. On the contrary, it’s the very source of their wealth. If this were not the case, the wage system would’ve been abolished long ago!

As for competitiveness, it’s just an excuse. Competitiveness depends above all on the profit margins pocketed by the capitalists. Wages are kept as low as possible, so that big business can maintain and increase its margins and profits. As a result, the wealth of big bourgeois dynasties has increased by 20, 30, sometimes even 40% over the past year, while wages have remain stuck at rock bottom.

If profits increase, it means there’s enough money to increase wages! But big corporations won’t raise wages unless workers unite together and force them to.

For years we’ve been told that increasing wages automatically leads to inflation. Yet today, we’ve got frozen wages – sometimes even diminished wages due to short-time work – AND inflation.

And it’s not only energy prices that are going up, but also rent, health expenses, food prices – even the price of bread! Gradually, all products will be affected and, according to experts, we’ll be faced with rising energy prices for years to come. It’s clear that the present surge in prices will not be a temporary but a lasting one. Inflation is back.

For employers, it’s easy enough to transfer the increased cost of raw materials and their other rising expenses on the price of the goods and services that they sell, since they are free to set those prices as they please. They are the masters of their own income so they can increase it according to the pace of inflation.

Wage-earners don’t have that possibility. That is why wages must be indexed to inflation. This must be done on the basis of real inflation, not on the official figures which are largely underestimated.

For the French office of national statistics, rent only represents 6% of household expenses. Suppose you earn 2 000 euros, this would mean a rent of 120 euros! Clearly, the state’s calculations are nowhere near reality.

So wages and retirement pensions must be increased. The minimum monthly wage should be 2 000 euros. And wages must be indexed to real inflation!

It’s possible to force the bosses to make such concessions provided that we fight to get them. Here and there workers are expressing their dissatisfaction, through walkouts and in some companies through strikes. These are all examples to follow.

The government's 100-euro check is ridiculous. But it proves that the government fears an outbreak of anger. Such an outbreak is more than necessary, and would be more than welcome. For it to change the balance of power between workers and employers on a larger scale, the anger needs to lead to massive strikes in all companies!

Nathalie Arthaud