Like British workers, let's refuse sacrifices!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 29, 2022

In his cabinet meeting last Wednesday, Macron did not beat around the bush: times are changing, he declared, and there is no alternative, we should get ready to make sacrifices.

After listing the perils ahead of us (the ongoing war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, soaring prices and probable shortages), Macron explained that the days of “affluence and carefree living" were over.

For all of us worn out by hard work and struggling to make ends meet, these provocative words could only be understood as a declaration of war. Working conditions have been deteriorating for years, job insecurity has become widespread, and Macron speaks of “carefree living”?

As for “affluence”, how many workers workers have experienced it? Frozen wages, a minimum wage of 1,300 euros, job cuts, ten million poor people, housing and transport problems, decaying public hospitals, difficulties in obtaining loans: is that “affluence”?

Sure, some people know what “affluence” means! It is reserved for the ultra-rich, for the bourgeois dynasties who accumulate mountains of capital, for example Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH, who owns more than 100 billion euros. That money allows them to buy private jets, yachts, palaces, soccer clubs, but also and above all financial, industrial and commercial firms, not to forget TV channels and press groups, which constitute sources of further enrichment and power.

Yes, a minority is swimming in an ocean of affluence because it is able to capture, through the mechanism of exploitation, the fruit of the labor of millions of workers around the world. And that will continue as long as the exploited do not revolt to challenge this domination.

The fat cats know all the tricks to get fatter and fatter. They know how to take advantage of crises, and fuel them if necessary. Rule number one: impose more efforts on your workers. Rule number two: take advantage of your dominant position to speculate and plunder public finance. The capitalists made the most of Covid, they are now making the most of the war in Ukraine, and they can be trusted to make the most of the aggravation of the present crisis.

Macron is there to help them do just that. By calling for sacrifices, he would like us to resign ourselves to soaring prices but wages that lag behind. He would like us to accept any kind of work, including the toughest and the least well paid. He would like us to resign ourselves to heating our homes less, moving around less, caring for ourselves less and eating even less well.

If we just wait and see, and don’t counter-attack, our conditions will be dragged down, back to what they were decades ago. This is no time to lament, but to rediscover working-class solidarity, to regroup, to organize and to fight for objectives likely to stop the attacks on the world of labor: the indexation of wages on the real increase in prices and workers’ control over capitalists, their fortunes and their misdeeds.

By choosing to fight back, British workers are showing us the way. For weeks they have been mobilizing on the railways and the subway, in post offices, Amazon warehouses and in some ports too. Though bosses have inherited from Margaret Thatcher a legislative arsenal to prevent strikes, though the government is as anti-labor as ours, British workers have taken the plunge and already hundreds of thousands have been on strike.

In Britain, where no large-scale strikes had occurred for decades, these strikes are a living sign that the working class is back and fighting. And it should encourage us to do the same. Yes, here too, it’s time to fight back!

Fighting for a tax on super profits and a better distribution of wealth is far from sufficient. The government itself is ready to ask for an exceptional contribution (a “windfall tax”) from TotalEnergies, the big winner of the soaring oil and gas prices. But how would that fill our purses or prevent the crisis from deepening?

In view of the scale and gravity of the crises that threaten us, we must fight to save our skins as workers, and to preserve the future of the whole of society.

The capitalists, their social order and their politicians have driven us into catastrophe…, economic chaos and war. As long as they rule, there is no way out.

It is urgent to oppose their policies by refusing to sacrifice ourselves for such a crazy system. We must get ready to challenge their power. This is the only way to stop them from doing any more harm and to offer a viable future to society.

Nathalie Arthaud