2022: let’s make it a year for the working class to be heard!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 3, 2022

For the working class, 2021 was marked by the attacks on their standard of living, working conditions that got harder and job insecurity that kept growing. But that doesn’t bother Macron who saw the traditional New Year wishes as yet another opportunity for self-congratulation in prime time. If he were to be believed, everyone from workers to the disabled, including pensioners and children are all better off than they were.

Public hospitals and their workers are at breaking point due to the epidemic? Society is constrained and disorganized by the epidemic? Macron holds the non-vaccinated responsible but we all know that it’s the result of the policies of successive governments and, above all the ever-growing hold that finance has over hospitals and the entire health sector.

Hospitals are overstretched, emergency departments are closing beds or even the department at night or on weekends. But they’re not being given more resources! The most eonomical solution the government has found for overcrowded emergency departments is to get rid of patients. Since January 1, people who consult the emergency department and are not hospitalized as a result have to pay 19 euros. Too bad for those who live in medical deserts and whose only fast access to healthcare is in hospitals. And it’s the same thing in schools and public transport where the lack of personnel and resources is exacerbated by the epidemic.

While the price of natural gas has been multiplied by six and the price of gasoline and domestic fuel has skyrocketed, while inflation is affecting everyday consumer goods, the working class has to make do with a monthly minimum wage of 1,269 euros before tax, including the catch-up for January. The disabled have to make do with a maximum of 903 euros. Retirees with a base payment of 916 euros and the promise of a minimum of 1,000 euros as long as they have a full trimester quota, which excludes many workers. As for the unemployed, their right to an allowance and the amount they receive will be lower with the unemployment insurance reform.

Macron’s New Year wishes were perfectly clear: the working class will be on survival rations, the capitalist class profits will be guaranteed “whatever the cost”.

For the extremely rich, 2021 was the year that beat all records. The personal fortune of Bernard Arnault (owner of LVMH) moved up to second place on the list of the world’s largest fortunes. Record dividends were handed out by France’s top 40 companies (the CAC40). Profits at Total were multiplied by 23. But workers have to choose between filling up at the pump in order to get to work or heating their home.

However arrogant and contemptuous Macron may be, he is no more than a servant of the rich whose profits depend on our exploitation and who are continuously drip fed public money by the current and previous governments. Getting rid of Macron won’t be enough to change this reality in 2022. In order to be respected, we must fight back against the attack led by the capitalist class.

Strikes for proper wage hikes have broken out in major retail outlets, agribusiness, the metal and transport industries. Some, like the workers at Leroy Merlin (a major hardware chain), have won increases. This is the first step in no longer accepting the situation and moving towards the powerful and generalized struggle that we will need to wrench the massive increases that are necessary.

The whole of society functions thanks to millions of workers, technicians and engineers whose work, devotion and conscience compensate for the irresponsibility of the state and big business. It is in the interests of the workers to use their skills, the strength of their position, to organize and start fighting the capitalist class.

Now that the health crisis and the ecological crisis have been added to the economic crisis, challenging the capitalist domination of the economy is not only a question of survival for workers but also the only possible future for all humanity.

2022 will be what we, the workers, choose to make it. It is so much bigger than the coming presidential election that will change nothing for those being exploited. The workers who want to state that their needs must come before profits, those who identify with the objectives of struggle and revolutionary prospects that I am defending, will be able to use their ballot to assert this.

Nathalie Arthaud