In his first television interview since his election, French president Macron repeated the untruths we have heard hundreds of times over the last five months. And he did so with his usual contempt for workers. He recently talked of workers who “screwed things up”. When asked to explain this, he said that he meant the workers fired from GM&S, a subcontractor of carmakers Peugeot and Renault, who were asking for more than the pathetic legal amount due to them.
His government is using executive orders to demolish labor legislation and allow the bosses to reduce salaries and fire people more easily. He says that this will promote “social dialog”.
He is decreasing taxes for the rich and is offering them nearly 5 billion euros in tax breaks. He says that this is to “encourage investments and boost the economy”.
Macron endorses the bosses’ lies and, like the presidents before him, is claiming that the unemployment figures are going down.
He had nothing to say to the workers, to the six million women and men who have lost their jobs and can only find short-term contracts, temporary work, or internships with no real prospects. Every day, his policies and speeches prove that he only serves the interests of the bosses and the bourgeoisie.
The tenants whose housing aid dropped by five euros per month as from October 1, are well aware that Macron is their enemy. So are the 150,000 employees whose government subsidized contract was terminated and who are now for the most part unemployed. Because their jobs have disappeared, a lot of local communities can no longer run canteens or other services that are vital to the population. Many associations for literacy or for home help may well disappear.
The hundreds of thousands of workers who have demonstrated several times over the past weeks were not fooled by what Macron called “reformation” of labor legislation.
Having attacked labor legislation, Macron is now going to work on other “social issues” such as unemployment benefits and vocational and apprenticeship training.
He is yet again making a pretense of social dialog. He met for an hour with representatives from the confederation of trade unions and the bosses’ union. The Prime Minister, Philippe, is going to do the same thing this week and then there will be discussions with the Labor Minister. The government aims to introduce a bill in April 2018 based on what they are planning to do.
The government intends to extend unemployment benefits to cover employees who resign and to self-employed workers. In order to pay for this, the government will have to find billions of euros. They certainly won’t increase employer contributions, so they’ll find the money one way or another by paying out less unemployment benefit. The details of the plan have not yet been released by the government but there can be no doubt that it will be a setback for workers and the unemployed.
Those unions who play along with the pretense of “social dialog” are complicit in the government’s attacks. The attacks can’t be stopped in the comfort of ministry salons. They can only be stopped by demonstrations, strikes and changing the balance of power in companies throughout the country. Against the bosses and the government, workers are immensely strong and they must use that strength.
The government would have us believe that the executive orders are a done deal and that it’s time to move on. Well it isn’t! The fight against the dismantling of labor legislation and the policies of Macron-Philippe is not over! Workers in the public and private sectors who went on strike and who demonstrated on October 10 have made that perfectly clear.
The CGT[i] is calling for another day of mobilization on October 19. We must use this new opportunity to show that we are willing to defend ourselves and put a stop to the attacks from the government and bosses.
The fight isn’t over and it must spread. Everyone who is convinced of this must use every opportunity to make themselves heard.
[i] CGT: Conféderation Générale du Travail. One of France’s major unions and possibly the most left-wing. As with most unions, the leader is usually ready to negotiate with the bosses and/or the government but the base remains relatively combative. CGT: Confédération Générale du Travail. One of France’s major unions and possibly the most left-wing. As with most unions, the leadership is usually ready to negotiate with the bosses and/or the government but the rank-and-file remains relatively combative.