Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 5, 2018
Because the GDP grew by 2% last year and because corporate and finance profits are so high, the media keep repeating that the economy is recovering. Some commentators are even wondering whether France isn't about to reach full employment! France's five and a half million unemployed and the Tupperware employees who were recently fired have their own idea on the question.
Obviously, those professional liars do not live on the same planet as the rest of us. There is no economic recovery for the millions of men and women who can only count on their monthly wages, allowances or pensions to get by. There is no economic recovery for the thousand workers of Ford-Blanquefort and those of Carrefour or Yellow Pages who are under the threat of losing their jobs.
The “improved labor market” that commentators write about simply means that more and more young and not-so-young people are forced into temporary work, short-term contracts, work-study contracts that are underpaid and part-time jobs. It also includes physically and mentally exhausting work in sweat factories like Amazon and others which claim to be “building the workplaces of the future”.
As for the "improved salary" that usually comes with economic recovery, there’s no hope there. No boss is offering more than a 1% wage increase. The media made a lot of fuss about the incentive bonuses paid by Air France and PSA to their "lucky" workers! Talk about luck! What workers have lost in purchasing power after years upon years of wage freeze cannot be compensated for by a mere bonus—and 10,000 short-term PSA workers won’t get any bonus at all.
A quick look ten or twenty years back shows the extent of what workers have lost in terms of employment, working conditions, wages and pensions. Casual work, production speed-ups and working hours are reaching absurd levels. No job is guaranteed anymore. And the same profit-oriented pressure is also put on workers in the public sector (in hospitals, schools, post offices, local governments, etc.).
All of this so that the bourgeoisie can continue to make record-breaking profits and accumulate outrageous fortunes which feed frenetic speculation. What does Macron say to that? March on! Our priority is business and capital! He has already torn apart France's labor laws. He now wants to roll back retirement benefits. And to make sure that the whole country works under the yoke of profitability and competitiveness, he is now attacking the civil service and the state-run railroad system.
If we don't stop him dead in his tracks, what will the situation be like in five or ten years? Working men and women must defend their interests against big corporations and their political servants. The balance of power must be reversed through the collective struggle of the working class.
The first thing to be done is to show our solidarity and our support for railroad workers. Macron is waging a real war against them. If they can make Macron back down, the whole working class will be politically and morally reinforced. If not, the bourgeoisie and Macron’s arrogance will be limitless. This is why the railroad workers’ fight is our fight.
A campaign against railroad workers is sweeping the country. It was launched by a government that has an unprecedented number of millionaire ministers, including Florence Parly, the minister of armed forces, who worked for SNCF as a free-lance consultant for a monthly wage of 52,000 euros. And the government’s slander campaign is supported by journalists who enjoy lifetime sinecures and various privileges.
We mustn't be misled by the false arguments made by our enemies. They come from the real privileged class, from billionaires like Arnault, Bolloré, Bouygues, Vinci… whose greed is infinite, and from Macron and his clique, who are ready to help the rich get even richer.
Railroad workers enjoy some job security and their wages automatically increase with seniority but they are far from being privileged: they must work a minimum of 41.5 years to qualify for a full pension; they work shifts; they work on week-ends and at night. So, they have every reason to defend what they already have. By supporting them, we are simply defending our own interests as workers.
On March 15, the employees of retirement homes and home services companies have been called on to strike and demonstrate. On March 22, another strike and demonstration day will bring together the civil servants and the railroad workers. It is important that huge numbers of workers join these strikes and march together in protest.