Behind the provocative salary of Tavares there’s a whole system to overthrow

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 22, 2024

The outrageous annual salary of Carlos Tavares, CEO of the Stellantis group, comes as a shock. 36.5 million euros (approx. 39 million dollars), which means 100,000 euros (approx. 106,500 dollars) per day for 365 days. It would take a worker on minimum wage 1,500 years to earn that amount. The discrepancy is staggering but perfectly represents how this society functions.

If the amount seems astronomical, what about the 6.6 billion euros that were handed out to Stellantis’ shareholders ? That’s why they voted enthusiastically to pay Tavares that much. He has significantly increased the profitability of the group – by cutting thousands of jobs and closing many plants in France, Europe and the U.S.

So much so that the group, with more than 18 billion euros (more than 19 billion dollars), has the second highest result in the CAC 40 (France’s 40 top performing companies), just below oil company TotalEnergies but just above LVMH, the luxury group of Bernard Arnault, the richest man in the world. The capitalists reward their faithful servant!

This is the system upheld by leaders like Macron, Le Pen and even those on the left of the government. They are convinced that capitalism is the best possible system and are wholly devoted to the bourgeoisie. Prime Minister Attal acted outraged but other than saying the salary was “excessive, stratospheric, shocking to some”, what did he propose? As for Le Pen and Bardella, they had nothing to say.

The truth is that the capitalist class holds on to all the riches. And why is this? It has nothing to do with the words “merit” and “work” that the government keeps using. The capitalist class doesn’t even run its own businesses, it pays people like Tavares to do it for them.

The only class in society that creates anything is the working class. All the wealth society produces comes from the collective activity of workers, employees, engineers, those in industrial, agricultural, hotel and catering, cleaning sectors, etc. Society also relies on those whose work doesn’t perhaps directly create wealth but whose job is vital – carers, teachers, rail workers.

But, in the name of the private ownership of the means of production, capitalists are the masters of profit. They hold absolute decision-making power in the companies that represent a vast part of the economy. This gives them authority over the small companies around them and an economic power to the extent that the state itself does as they ask.

A number of highly-placed civil servants have worked in their companies. As for the political leaders, they may well be elected by the people, the capitalist class sees them as their own political staff. Chirac lived out his latter years in a luxurious Parisian town house belonging to billionaire François Pinault. It’s anecdotal but it shows the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the representatives of the state.

The bourgeoisie also has a whole repressive apparatus that it can count on – the police force, judges, etc. It’s a fundamental role played by the state, hidden in times of social calm but apparent when there is any form of revolt. For example, when workers fight to keep their jobs and wages, as they did at Vertbaudet in 2023, they face the law and the CRS1.

Tomorrow, political leaders will perhaps turn us into soldiers for the wars they are currently preparing. The youngest among us will be placed under the orders of officers and generals. They’ll tell us that we’re defending our homeland and freedom but we’ll really still be working for the bourgeoisie.

The politicians in or preparing to be in government use a language designed to blur the lines and hide class war. The political parties that appear to be in opposition are in fact serving their social class, the class of the bourgeoisie.

We should only trust our own class, the working class. Our collective survival, to have jobs and wages that allow us to live decently, will depend only on our fight. Our objective must be to overthrow this capitalist system that turns us into exploited people.

Nathalie Arthaud


1 The Compagnie républicaine de sécurité (Republican Security Corps), abbreviated to CRS, is the general reserve of the French National Police. Primarily involved in general security missions, it is best known for crowd and riot control.