Back to work: it’s time to prepare for battle against the government and the capitalists

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
August 24, 2020

Summer holidays are coming to an end. Some were able to get a taste of what better times would be like by treating themselves to a few days of freedom far from work, managers and the boss. Many others weren’t able to get away and get their minds off things because they couldn’t afford it. But for all of us proletarians, that short break away from work is now over. Once a proletarian, always a proletarian, as it goes. Now we’re all heading back to work, with plenty to worry about.

There are the fears we face with this ongoing pandemic. Fears about children heading back to school where it will be difficult to enforce social-distancing and the use of protective measures. Fears of being infected with the virus in public transport or workplaces, where many clusters have been spotted even if the government would rather not admit it. And fears, too, for the elderly who are particularly at risk.

Beyond the health crisis, there is the economic crisis. The automotive, aviation, clothing, entertainment and tourism sectors are under serious threat. Some companies have slowed down production and some businesses have remained closed.

So yes, there is cause for concern. But the anxiety of the bourgeoisie, of major shareholders and speculators, has nothing to do with the anxiety of the working class. While the bosses worry about their investments, their dividends and whether or not their fortunes will increase, workers worry about keeping their jobs and their wages.

In fact, the economic crisis isn’t just a source of anxiety for the bourgeoisie. It’s also a source of opportunity to buy out competitors, restructure and make more profits. The future looks very different when you’re called Peugeot, Mulliez, Drahi or Arnault, and sitting on a pile of gold, and when you’re a worker who can lose both job and wage if the boss decides he no longer needs you. The interests of the bourgeoisie are diametrically opposed to those of the working class. While the bourgeoisie takes advantage of layoffs to increase profit and toughen exploitation, workers lose the income they need to live.

So working-class men and women must prepare for battle and get ready to defend their own interests. They must get together, talk together, organize and make up their own action plan to preserve jobs, wages and decent working conditions. If less work is to be done because of the crisis, it must be divided up and distributed among all with no loss of pay.

Big bosses will fight tooth and nail to win back whatever they lose because of the crisis and they’ll do it at the workers’ expense. Temporary workers have been laid off, jobs assigned to subcontractors and self-employed workers have been terminated, odd jobs such as taking care of children and doing housework have been eliminated and all of this has already taken a toll on the working class.

And it’s only the beginning of the attacks against the labor force. The mass layoffs at Airbus, Air France and Nokia along with factory closures at Renault and Smart and court-ordered restructuring at retail chains like André are only the tip of the iceberg.

Employees who are able to keep their jobs or who work in sectors where the crisis hasn’t hit as hard are also affected. Just like Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company which is cutting 1,000 jobs in France despite a bright-looking future, all major companies are going to take advantage of the situation to increase the exploitation of workers. Companies everywhere will start restructuring and implementing performance agreements to avoid raising wages if not to lower them, to reduce vacation days and increase the workload.

There’s no use wondering for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for all workers and for society on the whole. Low wages and mass unemployment aren’t the only threat. By stirring up rivalry between major world powers, capitalist greed condemns us to a world of confrontations, military tensions and war.

Workers must challenge the bourgeoisie’s domination over society and fight the capitalist system and its senseless race for profit. If we don’t want to be sacrificed, we must make the capitalists pay. So we too must have the will to fight tooth and nail. We must take back the wealth that capitalists and shareholders have accumulated for decades. Now more than ever there is only one alternative: it’s their profits or our jobs, their dividends or our wages, their wealth or our lives.