Promises won’t feed us

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 9, 2022

Macron has been sworn in and politicians are now quivering with excitement about the legislative elections. But what the politicians are excited about is a million miles from what we workers are worrying about.

Our day-to-day problems are the rapid-changing price tags. And it’s an understatement to say that Macron’s sparse measures are doing nothing to help: there are more and more price hikes and that means more and more sacrifices.

Since 2019, diesel oil has increased by 38%, gas-bottle prices by 8.6%. The overall winner is heating oil: two years ago, 1,000 liters cost 950 euros, today the cost is 1,500 euros. As for food prices, a quick look at what you put in your shopping cart is enough to see that pasta, oil, eggs, chicken, fruit and vegetables are all more expensive.

The sudden rise in prices is a catastrophe for anyone who was already going without some things in order to eat, and now it’s going to apply to millions more people.

Many working-class families are trying to save as much as they can here and there, eliminating any unnecessary spending, negotiating contracts, using the car as little as possible. And when the car breaks down, you either have to find a cheap or free solution or get used to long journeys on public transport. Not only are people dealing with a hard day at work, they now have to hunt out the best deals and find a hundred and one ways to reduce the shopping bill.

And the worst is yet to come! Bakers, restaurant owners, stock farmers, etc. are all telling us that they’ll have to hike their prices up again because their costs are increasing. As for energy prices, they’re going to remain exorbitant as long as speculators continue to profit from the pressure on gas and oil prices due to the war in Ukraine.

Day after day, our wallets remind us how serious the situation is. We can also gauge this from the breaks in supply chains and how disorganized companies are. You don’t need to be an economist or a specialist in international relations to realize that the world is sinking deeper into a phase of acute crisis.

If we don’t want to suffer another flare up, we must get ready to fight tooth and nail for our purchasing power.

What politicians call inflation is nothing more than yet another levy on workers for the benefit of the capitalist minority that dominates the economy. That impoverishment is an aspect of the class struggle that is of crucial importance today.

The only way we can protect ourselves is by fighting for wages to catch up and for them to be indexed automatically to price increases. If prices go up, let’s have wages, social aid and retirement pensions go up in the same proportions! And that depends on us, on the collective balance of power that we can build against the big bosses.

Our essential interests are being played out in companies, at the very heart of production. And we are the main fighters.

While the election period lasts, we’ll be treated to politicians’ antics. Macron hopes to have a majority that will allow him to continue his attacks on the working class. Le Pen is fighting on the far right for the title of biggest opponent. The dream merchants on the left want to generate enthusiasm for their latest united front. But these are just diversionary sideshows.

The promises that they keep brandishing are just hot air – they don’t have the power to decide what is essential for us, the workers. The National Assembly, the government and the President of the Republic don’t set prices, wages or working conditions. Those are imposed by big business according to the economic crisis. A crisis that no politician is capable of stopping. So let’s leave them to their play acting!

The challenge for us, the workers, is to rediscover the will to act on our own behalf. To affirm this necessity, Lutte ouvrière will be presenting candidates in every constituency. All candidates are workers who militate to help our class get organized and defend our living conditions. Even in a minority, they’ll make it clear that there is a current inside the working class that is determined not to give in to the dominant class.

Nathalie Arthaud