All together on February 4 to stop layoffs and share out work among all working people

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
February 1, 2021

We are threatened with a third lockdown, the spread of variants, vaccination at a snail's pace, etc. The epidemic is developing and the government's inability to curb it has created a certain discouragement. We may have to resign ourselves to living with Covid-19 for the months to come. But there is no reason to accept the anti-worker policy being carried out by the government and the bosses. There is no reason for workers to remain silent when the government refuses to hire the extra-staff needed in hospitals or schools. We must confront the current wave of layoffs and employer attacks.

The health crisis is a handy pretext for capitalists to impose new sacrifices. Tourism, air transport and cultural activities may be at a standstill, but supermarkets, the car industry, food processing and the pharmaceutical sector are running at full speed. Large companies are receiving more than their share of orders, and profits are rolling in. Yet big business wants more, and uses the restrictions linked to Covid-19 and the morose atmosphere to attack working conditions.

The government has imposed a curfew and a slowing down of our social life. In workplaces, it’s the other way round: production rhythms are becoming crazy, with overtime, work on Saturdays and night shifts. And all for peanuts!

For capitalists, the Coronavirus crisis is just another opportunity to wage their class war. Everywhere, CEOs are using the epidemic as an excuse to restructure their companies. Everywhere, they’re laying off workers, intensifying exploitation and establishing iron discipline. Wages are frozen or even cut. This is the situation in the private sector but also in the public sector, where the state behaves like any other capitalist boss.

While workers in employment are overexploited, others get sacked and end up on welfare. Prosperous groups like Michelin, Auchan, Total, Renault and Sanofi have announced layoff plans that will send thousands of workers to the unemployment office – in other words, to social death. Why? Because these sharks can’t for a second imagine not winning the fight for market shares. Because they want to make sure that their company's stock prices will continue to rise and satisfy the greed of shareholders.

The billionaires who exploit us will not put an end to this mad race on their own initiative. Neither will the government which continues to hand out billions to companies even when they lay off workers by the thousands.

Of course workers react to the employers' attacks. For example, workers at the Total refinery in Grandpuits (in Normandy) have been on strike for more than a month against job cuts. Walkouts for wages have been organized here and there. This is the way forward, for all workers!

Against the capitalists' offensive, there must be a counteroffensive of the entire working class. A revival of collective struggles is necessary to protect our right to a decent job, a decent salary and retirement benefits. That is the only way to preserve the future of society as a whole. A society dominated by mass unemployment and poverty becomes rotten through and through. Of course, a mobilization of all working people cannot just be decided, but it starts with us stating our interests.

Due to the number of temporary and short-term workers being fired, unemployment has reached new heights. To prevent today's crisis from spiralling out of control, layoffs must be stopped and work shared out among all—for the same wages. In hospitals and schools but also in private companies, every employee is doing the work of two or three people. It’s time to recruit new hands!

Shareholders don't need more money to live an easy life. On the other hand, workers only have their salary or retirement pension to make ends meet. These sums must be increased by taking the money out of profits! If we don’t want the billions upon billions of the government's “recovery plan” to end up in the pockets of profit-makers and speculators, we, the workers must be able to control the billions handed over to the big bosses, because we need this money for salaries and jobs!

These are the objectives and perspectives we must put forward. We can do this on Thursday, February 4, since the CGT, Solidaires and the FSU are calling for a day of interprofessional mobilization bringing together the public and private sectors.

The current crisis underlines the fundamental injustice of a class-based society where a minority of rich parasites thrive by making conditions worse for everyone else. The class war is far from being over. If we don't want to be forever on the losing side, we must overthrow those who exploit us!