To stop the demolition of our pensions and for better wages, let’s all go on strike on January 19!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 16, 2023

The announcement that retirement age would be pushed up to 64 was intended to knock workers out. Well, it’s had the opposite effect: millions of workers are up in arms against this new attack and are preparing to strike and demonstrate next Thursday.

This is a very good thing! The strikes and demonstrations against this attack need to be as massive as possible.

When it comes to the needs of workers, we’re told there’s no more money. No money for wages. No money for hospitals. No money for schools or public transportation... And now there’s no money for pensions! The government and the employers are insulting our intelligence.

To get through the health crisis, Macron and Le Maire, his chief treasurer, found more than 200 billion euros. To ensure the sacrosanct “competitiveness” of companies, each year they hand out 160 billion euros to them in tax exemptions. The latest stimulus package provides for 100 billion euros to be put on the table over two years... In short, whether through profits or through public subsidies, money flows freely for the big bourgeoisie. And they expect us to believe that, for a pension deficit that might oscillate between 10 and 15 billion annually, there is no solution?

The financing of pensions is not a demographic issue. Is it written in stone that pensions must be paid for by the working population? Why not draw on the ever-increasing profits and dividends? That would be the fair thing to do.

Our toil and sweat are at the root of the bourgeoisie’s fortunes. They are the foundation stones of the privileged lifestyle of entire capitalist dynasties, and have been for generations. The rich and their offspring literally swim in money from the cradle to the grave – retirement is no cause of worry for them! The least that should be done is to use this wealth to ensure a well-earned retirement for the workers who produced it.

But the big bourgeoisie is opposed to the financing of decent pensions. In most companies, bosses even refuse to index the basic salary to the level of inflation!

The bourgeoisie spends tens of millions on jets, yachts and palaces. But putting money into the well-being of workers after having exploited them for decades? No, no way. As long as they can crush the conditions of working people, intensify exploitation and suppress workers’ rights, they will.

Many workers won’t have the strength to work until they’re 64 or the means to pay into retirement funds for 43 years. So they won’t get a full pension. Macron and his minions know this. Just as they know that 64 is the age of life expectancy “in good health” and that 30% of the poorest people are already dead by that age.

But they have no qualms about it. They have declared war on our pensions because that’s the way things work in this society: the capitalists' fortunes must keep on growing. The golden rule is that a maximum amount of money must go into the pockets of the ultra-rich, of shareholders and business people, and who cares if much of it is wasted in speculation.

To intimidate those who are about to mobilize, ministers and employers denounce the blockades and the chaos that could ensue. As if they were not the prime culprits for the growing chaos around us, in allowing businessmen to speculate at will!

On Thursday, we must rise up in numbers against this additional attack and engage all together in a determined fight, private and public sector workers hand in hand, young and older workers shoulder to shoulder.

Some people, the young in particular, believe the planet will have gone up in flames or war will have destroyed it before they even reach the age of retirement. It’s true that immense crises and dangers threaten us. But it’s also by opposing each and every attack or injustice, step by step, that workers will find the strength to challenge the entire social order.

The battle that is beginning will require more than one day of mobilization. To win, our mass movement will need to hit the capitalists’ coffers and wallets, so to speak. We need to threaten them with deep social unrest. For the moment, all trade unions are united. But we cannot blindly rely on them.

In order to grow, our mobilization needs to be spread and controlled by workers at the grassroots level. The success of this first day of action must therefore be everyone's business. If we workers succeed in showing our strength, we will force Macron to back down.

Nathalie Arthaud