The real thing that makes us feel unsafe: our living conditions

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
December 11, 2023

“Lack of security, immigration!”… That’s all that right-wing and far-right politicians have been talking about for weeks now. And the government, led by Darmanin (the Minister of the Interior), is desperately running after them – trying to have its Asylum and Immigration Law voted despite the slap in the face it has just received at the National Assembly. All this contributes to a disgusting campaign against immigrants and against workers at large.

Workers know what insecurity means. And not only because they face delinquency and trafficking of all sorts. They know it intimately because they are proletarians.

Will I find a job? How much will it pay? Will I be able to keep up with the production speed? Will my body be able to resist? Will I keep my job? Millions of workers wonder about those nagging questions every day no matter their origins or the color of their skin.

This is what the life of a proletarian is like, even in a rich country like France. It’s the constant uncertainty that workers have to deal with because they are subordinated to the decisions made by their bosses and invisible shareholders. It's having to depend on the arbitrary decisions and random moods of your manager to be given permission to go on a training course or leave work early, to have your vacation dates approved, or in some cases to be able to work in safe conditions.

It also means to see your pay rise slower than inflation and your bonuses shrink, without any other explanation than the boss's blackmail : “Take it or leave it!”. It’s to see your rights attacked each time collective agreements are renegotiated, each time the corporation you work for is split up or restructured.

It means being nothing more than a pawn in the game of finance and being transferred around. That’s what happened and is still happening to thousands of employees in the Carrefour, Auchan and Casino chains, with the transfer of many supermarkets and shops into the hands of franchisees who are all the more greedy because their business is not very profitable. It means changing rogue bosses every two or three years through tender processes that deteriorate working conditions.

In addition to the lack of security and stability caused by exploitation at work and competition, there’s a lack of security caused by sky-rocketing prices and the fear of not being able to fill the fridge, get warm or even to find shelter.

Will the government worry about those who can’t afford a private health insurance anymore or who won’t insure themselves because the rates have gone up drastically? Certainly not! On the contrary, it will attack the rights of workers, of unemployed, retired or sick people. So, yes, the more you are exploited, the less you get paid and the more you feel uncertain and unsafe!

Undocumented workers – now the scapegoats of demagogues toying with racist and xenophobic prejudices – know a thing or two about all this. Because, on top of having to obey the bosses’ dictatorship on building sites, in warehouses and restaurant back kitchens, they are deprived of any rights and have no way to defend themselves. They must keep a low profile, hide away and, if they don’t want to sleep on the streets, put themselves at the mercy of slum landlords.

In poor countries, billions of women and men have to fight, all day long, to stay alive. Finding some work, doing a bit of business, overcoming illnesses, looking for water and food and escaping armed gangs are part of their daily life. So is war, as military conflicts spread across every continent. The sounds of war are approaching, making it a threat to us here too.

But you will never hear Le Pen (National Rally), Ciotti (Head of The Republicans) or Darmanin speak out against that type of insecurity. And with good reason! It is the normal way of functioning of the capitalist society they all defend!

Capitalism produces social insecurity as naturally as it produces wars. In this system, the right to live depends on the thickness of your wallet. And while the dominant class imposes those ills on us, it continues to prosper and ensure its own comfort, safety and that of its descendants – by pillaging and exploiting workers around the world, and by making them compete with one another.

So that the lives of the proletarians no longer depend on the uncertainty of the market, on competition, speculation and wars between capitalist bandits, the power of the bourgeoisie must be overthrown. We, the workers of the world, are the ones who make society run and create all the wealth. We must take control over it. To lead this struggle, we must reject with all our strength the poison of division that the politicians of the bourgeoisie try to spread in the working class.

Nathalie Arthaud