To make sure our vital needs are met, we have to fight the capitalists

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
July 5, 2021

In recent days, the government and uncritical news coverage on economic forecasts have all been highly optimistic: “all economic indicators are green”, “a spectacular upturn”, “stronger than expected growth”. According to INSEE, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies in France, economic growth is back, purchasing power will increase by 2% and more than 300,000 jobs will be created by the end of the year. If these figures were true, they wouldn’t even make up for the number of job losses caused by the health crisis or for the loss in purchasing power. But they’re enough for commentators to use the line that life is back to how it was before the health crisis, only better.

According to them, the future looks bright. But you really have to be a rich man’s lackey to dare talk about an overall increase in purchasing power at a time when bills are going up – fuel, gas, the price of fruit and vegetables – while wages remain particularly low!

And while journalists and ministers are busy congratulating each other on TV, yet more layoffs and factory closures that affect thousands of families are being announced.

On July 1, nearly 1,000 Office DEPOT workers received their letters of dismissal after the office supplies company went into receivership. The pretext was all the losses due to the health crisis. But the only casualties are the workers because the shareholders of the investment fund which owns the company have made quite a big profit – their dividends have increased by 85%.

Office DEPOT’s situation is a telling example. Yes, the future is rosy for shareholders, for the handful of rich parasites who invest their wealth where it will bring in the most money the fastest, even if it means tearing a company to shreds after having made a maximum amount of profit by exploiting its workers!

So when those who represent the capitalists talk about recovery and growth, it doesn’t mean that things will get better in working-class neighborhoods. If there is any growth at all, it will only ever be in an economy in crisis, one where markets are saturated and where capitalists demand that the state fork out money in order for them to invest if they see fit.

And the government complies. It has announced additional innovation grants worth 7 billion euros in the health sector, in other words for big pharmaceutical companies. Yes, Macron supports the capitalists “whatever the cost”… to workers and the laboring classes!

Even in companies where work is picking up again, bosses intend to impose setbacks on workers. This is the case for airport staff, like those who work at Aéroports de Paris (Paris Airports), where management wants to lower wages. As for the government, after first launching its attack against the unemployed, it is now targeting pensioners. Although Macron hasn’t put his points-based project for retirement reform back on the negotiating table, he wants to raise retirement age to 64 even though it’s nearly impossible to find a job after 55. For many workers, this will mean surviving on minimum welfare benefits while waiting to qualify for a retirement pension that is just as meager because they don’t have the required number of trimesters.

These attacks put pressure on all workers. The only way we can resist is by engaging in a general offensive against the capitalists, by organizing the workers’ class struggle to preserve our vital needs, starting with a job and wages that allow us to live decently.

The money is there. Major shareholders have amassed billions and are even boasting of their regained prosperity. The workers are the ones who make society function, so they should make sure that the money the capitalists have accumulated and the state’s resources are used to keep all jobs open and create the ones that are needed!

There’s no lack of work. In many companies, insanely fast work rates and overtime hours are ruining workers’ health. We need to hire more transport workers, open more hospital beds, hire more staff in retirement homes, schools and all essential sectors.

In order to live decently, wages must be raised massively. And to prevent our purchasing power from plummeting, when prices go up, wages must also go up.

This isn’t part of the “economic recovery” the bourgeoisie and its lackeys are talking about, but it’s the only future prospect for workers.