Governed by enemies of the working class

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 28, 2022

Prices are skyrocketing. More and more working-class families are doing without to pay for food or heating. The energy crisis is threatening numerous companies and their jobs. What has the government decided? To attack the unemployed!

Previous reforms reduced the amount of unemployment benefit. The latest one to be adopted has reduced its duration. Through a modulation system, benefits will be paid for a shorter time when the official level of unemployment goes down. In practice, on February 1, the length of time will drop by 25%. An unemployed person who had a right to 12 months of benefits will only have 9.

This new attack is the culmination of an insistent campaign about unfilled jobs and accusations that the unemployed don’t want to work.

They must be “encouraged” to return to work said the Labor Minister. Even his words are revolting. By way of incentive, the government is holding a knife to the throats of the unemployed by taking away months of unemployment benefits. In a country where there are nearly five million people looking for work, this attack can only lead to more poverty and tragedies.

And who should be punished for not wanting to work? The women and men who have just been fired by the Camaieu retail chain? The millions of workers who go from periods of unemployment to small jobs, short-term contracts, temp jobs or training, never finding a stable job?

Millions of women and men juggle small jobs in order to pay health bills and family bills but without having enough to live decently. And millions of others – bus drivers, nursing aides, sales people or waiting staff – are so badly paid that they can no longer keep up with housing expenses or feeding their family.

The ones who are responsible are over in the capitalists’ camp, starting with the big bosses who are always ready to rake money in but never to spend, hire or pay better wages.

Sometimes, the government seems to be telling the bosses off. But when it wants to persuade them to hire apprentices, for example, it doesn’t threaten to cut them off. Quite the opposite, it reassures them that they’ll get plenty of money.

The working classes are the ones taking the blows. And this reform is a blow against all workers – its objective is to put pressure on all workers.

The law is even aimed directly at workers who have jobs since it carries a measure of “presumption of resignation”. A worker who is declared to have abandoned his job will have no unemployment rights, nor will someone who has refused two offers of a full-term contract.

The message is clear: workers are told to ask for nothing and accept everything, including exploitation and dismissal, without saying a word.

The government is going to throw thousands of unemployed people into abject poverty at a time when profits are beating all records, when dividends and CEO pay packets are soaring. The summit is reached this year by Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis (Peugeot) whose remuneration package is 66 million euros.

The amounts pocketed by the big bourgeoisie are astronomical to the point that they seem to belong to a parallel universe. But it really is this society! A CEO in France’s CAC40 (the top 40 companies on the stock market) receives, on average, 8 million euros per year, i.e. 22,000 euros per day.

The government is coming down on all single moms and seniors who are having trouble to find a livable wage in order to help the big bourgeoisie make even more money.

How can we trust people who make this kind of decision and have such disregard for the life of the working people?

The bosses and Macron and his government don’t care about our problems. They don’t care that salaries don’t keep up with the cost of living. They don’t care that people can’t heat their homes. They don’t care that municipalities can no longer fulfill inhabitants’ needs. They keep talking about the country’s interests and those of the people but they only care about the bourgeoisie, to whom they are completely devoted. With this kind of attack, they show who they really are.

They are our worst enemies. If war comes right to our door, they’ll use us as cannon fodder to make sure that their sickening order remains in place.

Nathalie Arthaud