Targeting society’s true rulers, those behind Macron

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
Mayb 29, 2023

Since March 20, 80 warehouse packers for Vertbaudet (a children’s clothing retailer) in the North of France have been on strike for a 150-euro wage increase. Earning little over minimum wage, facing skyrocketing prices like many working-class families, they can no longer make ends meet. Their boss is an investment fund run by Fillon’s son1. It has refused a general wage increase and has only awarded bonuses despite the company making 11 million euros in profits in 2022.

Threatening to pay nothing if the majority unions refused to sign for the crumbs on offer, the boss obtained the signature of FO2 and the CFDT3. Typical employer blackmail.

But some of the workers, with the support of the CGT4, refused to give in and started a strike, for their wages and their dignity. For two months now, the bosses have tried everything to break the strike: taking on temporary workers to replace them, filing court cases, sending in the police to get rid of the picket lines. A police intervention sent one striker to the hospital.

Macron has been talking about an “uncivilization” process but who is really uncivilized? The workers who are fighting for a living wage? Or their bosses and the police who are against even that minimum?

The bosses have had the support of the state and the government every step of the way. Macronists have continuously criticized the strikers, accusing them of disrespecting a majority agreement and even of threatening the future of the company. At the exact moment that the police were breaking up the picket line, prime minister Borne was meeting with trade union confederations in Matignon. That’s what they call “social dialogue”!

This comes as no surprise. The government is a doormat for the bourgeoisie. It bemoans inflation but is incapable of doing anything to stop it. It just widens its eyes at the capitalists who are getting richer by hiking up prices and it sets the police on the workers who are fighting to stay out of poverty.

Inflation is not a natural catastrophe. Prices don’t go up on their own. They are set by the most powerful capitalists – Total, Engie, grain producers like Cargill, shipowners like CMA CGM, who all take advantage of the shortages produced by war, virus or drought to increase their prices and speculate. And when they don’t have an obvious motive, they invent one!

The government, when faced with this racketeering, wasn’t prepared to take away even a tiny part of the excess profits by levying an exceptional tax! All it did was lie to us by setting up a tariff shield on electricity and natural gas as if it were giving the population a gift. No, the tariff shield is not a gift, it’s just a deferred payment of the ransom that major companies impose. We’ll be made to pay it later in the form of debt repayment!

The government has allowed the big energy corporations to steal from us. It has allowed them to stifle small businesses with bills that have been multiplied by 5 or 10. And the thieves are not wanted by the police, they’ll never be brought to justice. The law is on their side, the law that defends private property and the bourgeoisie’s right to rule society.

The bourgeoisie rules unchallenged. Our jobs, our working and living conditions, what we eat and how we travel, the air that we breathe, the future of the planet all depend on decisions taken by several thousand major shareholders. They can set up tax evasion, act like white-collar criminals, cause accidents in the workplace or poison workers with asbestos and chlordecone. But the police are not sent to arrest them or take them into custody. And when they are pursued, they have armies of lawyers who know all the subtleties of the law.

It’s not just Macron, it’s the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie that we are up against.

To change our fate, we need to take on the real leaders, challenge the dictatorship of capitalists and financiers. Until we overthrow this dictatorship, there can be no “good” President of the Republic, no “good” Constitution, no “good” Parliament.

It’s not enough to criticize the puppets and stooges of the bourgeoisie. There’s no point in calling for a republican police force and better social dialogue. We have to fight the bourgeoisie itself, its capital and the power it has to harm the whole of society.

Nathalie Arthaud

1 Fillon was Sarkozy’s prime minister from 2007 to 2012.

2 Force ouvrière (FO) is a trade-union confederation that separated from the CGT in 1947, on an anti-communist basis. For a long time its national leaders had direct links with the Socialist Party (PS). The membership and political orientation are very diverse: some branches or federations are openly pro-boss and right-wing, others are controlled by left-wingers. It is a bureaucratic apparatus like all the others (CGT, CFDT, Solidaires, UNSA…), with petty calculations that can lead FO to either oppose or support strikes, to either collaborate with the other confederations or “go solo”.

3 The Confédération française démocratique du travail (CFDT) officially has around one million members and claims to be the biggest trade union in France, just ahead of the CGT. While the CGT was historically linked to the Communist Party, the CFDT used to have ties with the Socialist Party. It claims to be “reformist”, meaning it generally accompanies rather than opposes attacks from the bosses and the governments.

4 The Confédération générale du travail (CGT), one of France’s major trade-union confederations and possibly the most left-wing, was founded in 1895 by syndicalists and tightly controlled by the Communist Party in the post-WW2 period. Its leadership today is usually ready to negotiate with the bosses and/or the government but the base remains relatively combative.