Don’t let them destroy our retirement pensions!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
September 9, 2019

September 9, 2019

The French government has decided to take its time over retirement reforms. After 18 months of “consultations” and a final session of discussions with the unions, this week it’s going to launch a pseudo-debate that will last several months. This is just another way of clouding the issue and pulling the wool over the workers’ eyes.

This reform is yet another attack and a big one at that! Whether the government chooses to follow Delevoye’s preference for a “pivotal” age of 64 or Macron’s preference for an extended period of contributions, all future retirees will lose out. All the more so because pensions will be calculated on a points system based on the wages earned throughout a person’s working life and not on the top earning years. As for the value of the point, the government reserves the right to change it!

Whatever the reform, it’s always the same madness. To receive a full pension, you’ll have to work beyond the age of 62 even though more than half the workers older than 55 are fired, unemployed or disabled. You’ll need to contribute during 43 years even if precariousness and periods of unemployment are now the norm. The government talks of equality but the only equality that workers have is in the sacrifices they make and their meagre pension.

The government is cautious because it fears the population’s reaction. They don’t want to take any risks before the municipal elections and they know that the discontent expressed in the yellow-vest movement is still smoldering, and are scared that the anger will explode again. This is proof that we can only gain respect by mobilizing.

Macron thinks that it’s urgent to wait but the workers have no reason to sit by and do nothing. We can stop these attacks if we rally and express our anger collectively, if we make ourselves feared. And we can do this, by using the weapons we have – strikes and demonstrations.

On September 13, the workers of the Paris-region transport network (RATP) will be the first to express their opposition to the reform. They’ve calculated that the reform will take away an average of 500 euros from their monthly retirement pension. They won’t accept that without a fight and indeed they shouldn’t! If their strike is successful, it will encourage workers in all other sectors to do the same thing and to respond massively to the CGT’s call on September 24.

Why should workers accept that part of their pension be stolen? Every euro taken from the working class is used to fill the pockets of shareholders and increase the outrageous fortunes of a minority. And what is even worse for the future of society is that these sacrifices only serve to feed a financial system that is totally out of control.

Every time big business and the government attack, they act all innocent and explain that the measures are necessary to safeguard the future. If you listen to them, they’re closing hospital beds to save the health system. They’re reducing what is paid to the unemployed in order to maintain the unemployment benefits system. They’re attacking retirees to ensure the future of the pension system… But they don’t even know if their economy will still be working one month, six months or a year from now!

Not a week goes by without bourgeois economists announcing an imminent stock market crash. Equity-price bubbles, gold bubbles, real-estate bubbles… speculation is rife because, in this rotting capitalist system, finance pays more and faster than any investment in production. Speculation has accumulated so much explosive material that the slightest hiccup, the slightest uncertainty or poor bit of forecasting can have the effect of a fuse on a powder keg.

The most recent proof of the madness of the system was Thursday last when, in a single day, the French state borrowed 10 billion euros of which 1 billion was at a negative interest rate. In other words, those who lend the capital are going to lose money.

So, despite being likely to lose millions, capitalists are rushing to buy up state debt because they think it’s a sure bet. They’re getting ready for the worst, i.e. another crash. One that could have disastrous consequences for the whole economy.

And workers should be bled dry for this casino economy?

Only the working class can put an end to this absurd economic system; by fighting for their interests, by fighting so that the riches produced by the workers are used for wages, jobs, retirement pensions, and for public services that will benefit society as a whole.