the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist
“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx
Jun 29, 2020
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.
In France the clatter from politicians is picking up again. The second round of municipal elections is coming. The government is angling for an environmentalist reputation. Cabinet ministers are being reshuffled. And President Emmanuel Macron is preparing his next big speech.
But the important thing is what happens in the workplaces. With layoffs and businesses closing, the bourgeoisie is destroying the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of workers.
The health catastrophe was only a pit stop for the bourgeoisie. Instead of the 67 billion dollars in dividends they expected, shareholders got 45 billion! Those who didn’t get a dividend were asked to wait a year. For a multimillionaire, it’s certainly not the end of the world!
Yes, there’s an economic crisis. But profits and huge fortunes have not disappeared. And the bourgeoisie has every reason to feel it has support. The government has deployed enormous resources for them: 17 billion dollars for aeronautics, 9 billion for auto, 20 billion for tourism, hotels, and catering. But that changes nothing. The bourgeoisie is imposing new sacrifices on workers, and planning to lay off thousands!
In sectors where profitability is compromised, they simply withdraw their capital and have the company go bankrupt. In sectors with fewer orders, they cut jobs. In sectors where the future is uncertain, they cut temporary workers and contractors. They look at workers as just another machine to plug in, unplug, and relocate at the whim of profit. It doesn’t matter to them that workers need jobs to be able to live!
The capitalist class will be merciless toward workers, even though the government stuffed the bosses full of billions and they are sitting on immense fortunes. To accumulate more profits in this period of crisis, they will exploit some workers more while laying off others. To ensure their own prosperity, they will impoverish the entire working population. After all, small business owners, craftspeople, and small farmers depend on the purchasing power of workers just as workers themselves do. The bosses declare war on everyone who can only survive by working.
If workers do not defend themselves to preserve their living conditions, millions more families will fall into precariousness and poverty.
What workers have to conserve is not capital, nor stock prices. They only have their jobs and their wages. This is what they have to save in this crisis. Far from political cinema and demagogic promises, the main thing is the ability of workers to respond to blows. There is no salvation for the workers, outside of a collective, determined struggle. This can be initiated with simple but unifying objectives.
Faced with the collapse of economic activity, it is necessary to distribute the work among all employees, whether they are permanent, temporary, or subcontracted. If economic activity slows, the pace of work must decrease, and work time must be reduced, while weekly wages are held the same by cutting into profits.
Faced with the employer’s strategy of setting different workers or different job sites against each other, or of overloading some with work while shutting down others, we must impose that each works less so all may work! Not one worker, whether permanent, temporary or contractual, should be dismissed from their job and deprived of their wage!
To reduce unemployment, massive job programs must be created. The COVID-19 epidemic highlighted the shortage of staff in hospitals. To keep them from being overwhelmed, it took thousands of volunteers! The need is just as obvious for caregivers for dependent people, for education, for early childhood, for transportation, and for the post office.
These thousands of jobs are not being created now, because the bourgeoisie opposes it—just as the bourgeoisie opposes all public spending which doesn’t benefit the bosses. But hospitals or nursing homes do not have to be financially profitable. They just have to provide all the care that everyone needs, rich or poor! So we have to fight to create these jobs. Jobs do not have to generate private profits. Their usefulness to the public is enough to justify them!
In opposition to the logic of profitability and high performance of the bourgeoisie, workers have to fight for their logic: jobs, wage increases and workers’ control over the actions of the big businesses, which take us from crisis to crisis!