This year’s May Day demonstrations, in spite of brutal police interventions and localised clashes, gathered more people than last year. Clearly, Macron’s declarations haven’t convinced anyone. As usual, Interior Minister Castaner played his role, turning Paris into an entrenched camp where thousands of police officers used violence against demonstrators. He went so far as to explain that some of them had allegedly attacked the resuscitation unit at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital.
This was a shameless attempt to manipulate public opinion. For who is attacking hospitals today, if not Macron, his Prime Minister Philippe and Health Minister Buzyn? Health services have long been deprived of the necessary funding and are ready to disintegrate. Emergency-room staff have gone on strike in Paris and the movement is spreading.
The government is currently preparing a pension reform. The number of trimesters needed to get a full pension is to increase--meaning that retiring at 62, the current legal retirement age, will be near to impossible. More and more wage-earners will have to work longer and those who won’t be able to continue working will get miserably low pensions. With the new points system, workers with careers punctuated by periods of unemployment or of part-time work will also see their pensions reduced.
On Thursday, May 9, public service employees will be on strike against increasing job insecurity, decreasing real wages and the implementation of the so-called “contract terminations by mutual agreement”, which are nothing but disguised layoffs.
Workers must continue to express their anger and their demands. And the European elections on May 26 are an opportunity to do so.
The biggest political parties would like to limit the elections to a battle between pro-European Union (EU) parties on the one hand, i.e. Macron, the right wing and the Socialist Party, and anti-EU parties on the other hand, i.e. the Le Pen-Bardella duo and all the other sovereignist candidates.
But it’s a false debate. True, workers have nothing to expect from the EU: it was built by and for capitalists, not for workers. The EU has obviously not harmonized workers’ living conditions or wages upwards.
But the song sung by the choir of weeping sovereignists is a lie. Sure, the EU hasn’t improved workers’ living conditions, but neither have the national states. In fact, the national states have made them worse. Last year, Macron led a railway reform handing over the railroad network to private companies. Now he wants to sell Aéroports de Paris (Paris Airports) too. Labor legislation was reformed first by Valls then by Macron to demolish workers’ rights. The lack of doctors and medical staff in rural areas, the decrease in housing allowances, the abolition of government-subsidized jobs, the increase of social contributions paid for by workers and pensioners, and the end of the automatic adjustment of pensions to cost-of-living increases: those setbacks were all carried out by French governments. Hollande offered big business a huge tax break with the CICE which amounts to 20 billion euros a year, and an exceptional 40 billion euros in 2019. And it was Macron who got rid of the wealth tax.
But, behind the politicians, big bosses are the real decision-makers. The bourgeoisie ordered all these attacks. So holding the EU alone responsible for worsening living conditions or praising Frexit are both ways of exonerating French politicians and capitalists.
The list presented by Lutte ouvrière, led by Nathalie Arthaud and Jean-Pierre Mercier, rejects this false opposition.
It advocates increasing purchasing power, by increasing wages, pensions and allowances and indexing them to price increases in order to preserve our living conditions.
Against unemployment, dismissals must be banned and jobs created by distributing work among all, without loss of pay. The supermarket chain Carrefour is planning to cut up to 3,000 jobs. Auchan, another supermarket chain, wants to get rid of 21 stores and their 700 employees. Why should the employees have to bear the brunt of the decisions of the Mulliez family, who owns the group and is the fifth largest fortune in France? How much has the Mulliez family pocketed in recent years thanks to their employees’ work? Wage-earners, along with users and consumers, should be allowed to audit companies’ accounts.
Lutte ouvrière’s list is a list of workers who express what the objectives of the working class should be today. It asserts that the labor force must attack its real enemies: big business and its political representatives.
By voting for Lutte ouvrière on May 26, you will make it clear that the working class must make its demands heard.