The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Guadeloupe:
For the Construction of a Revolutionary Communist Workers Party!

Mar 1, 2021

Translated from a Special Supplement to the Combat Ouvrier of November 28, 2020, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the West Indies.

Workers and the unemployed: let’s refuse to pay for this crisis! Let’s demand to work less so we can all work, with no cuts in pay! Let’s demand massive hiring!

Every day capitalism is mired more deeply in crisis. Covid-19 has only worsened and sped up this crisis. And just as during any crisis, big business and the government in its service try to make workers and the poorest people pay.

Workers and the unemployed: let’s unite to defend our interests! Let’s build a revolutionary communist workers party, independent of the rich and privileged people!

It is urgent and even vital for workers and ordinary people to build a political force, a revolutionary communist workers party, to defend their own interests in the face of attacks by the big bosses and the government which serves them.

Combat Ouvrier calls on all workers, all the exploited, and all those who reject this barbaric system to join us in building this party.

Today many workers are disgusted with politics. We understand why—because those who lead us defend the interests of the rich and the privileged and not those of the workers and the poor. But actually, if we leave the political scene open for these people, we give them a free hand to continue to pursue their anti-working-class policy—destroying public services and generally impoverishing the population for the benefit of the richest people.

So let’s take charge of our future. We can only rely on our own strength.

Recently, workers have mobilized to counter their bosses’ attacks. At Antilles Sûreté Guadeloupe, agents, who screen airport passengers and their luggage, struck for 54 days against illegal paycheck deductions. Workers at garbage collection company Nicollin struck from October 16 to 23 and won higher wages, payment of promised bonuses, and other improvements to their contracts. At a bank, Crédit Agricole de Guadeloupe, when management tried to cut days off, workers went on strike in protest on November 3 and pushed management back. In the Sainte-Rose city government, city workers struck for over a week when their pay was late. Workers at Établissement Francais du Sang also struck for pay increases, more hiring, and job security on the island. The workers at the Gourbeyre quarry struck for better working conditions, against a boss who does not respect the law.

These struggles are isolated at this time, certainly, but these workers who fight are leading by example.

Yes to the autonomy and independence of workers and the poor classes—No to autonomy and independence for the privileged and the rich

At Combat Ouvrier, we insist that the social and political interests of workers and poor people are always put forward as a priority, regardless of the political circumstances. This is the main line of demarcation between nationalists, for whom defending the nation is a priority, and revolutionary communists like us. Our flag is the red flag of proletarians around the world and of the maroons (“nég mawon” in Creole) who rose up against slavery.

Defending the interests of “Guadeloupe” itself without distinction between rich and poor or between capitalists and workers amounts to supporting the ruling class: the rich and the capitalists. Not placing the workers and the poor at the head of all popular struggles amounts to putting them in the wake of the wealthy and their privileged political servants.

If tomorrow the struggle for independence were to be defended by workers and ordinary people, they would have to wage this fight in their own name, with their own class party and with their own flag. Whatever the future legal status of Guadeloupe, the working classes have to be present and to assert themselves now on the political scene. Otherwise this future status will work against them, just as the current status as an “overseas department of France” does.

Those who lead us demand sacrifices from workers and the people, even while they shower public money on the wealthy.

Breakdowns of Public Services ...

While the number of Covid deaths steadily rises, the government decided to cut nearly a billion dollars from hospitals in 2021! Those who lead us are criminals!

This government keeps bleeding hospitals, just like its predecessors did. In ten years, almost 15 billion dollars have been cut from hospitals. In 20 years, 100,000 hospital beds have been eliminated: 3,400 in 2019 alone! In Guadeloupe and Martinique between 2015 and 2017, one in six beds was removed. Many positions have been eliminated. Entire hospitals have even been closed.

At Pointe-à-Pitre University Hospital and other health facilities in Guadeloupe, the situation is even more serious than in France. For years staff have denounced the dilapidated conditions and the lack of human and material resources.

Today, the consequences are shocking: caregivers infected with Covid must come to work. Others who become exhausted are denied leave. Surgeries are cancelled. Caregivers nearly have to choose which patients to treat—whom to save—because they can’t take care of everyone. This is barbarism!

... And Billions for the Big Capitalists

Supposedly, there is no money for public health. What about the billions that are handed out every year to big companies, with no conditions?

Between 2013 and 2019, a total of more than 120 billion dollars worth of tax cuts were offered to big capitalists, after president François Hollande established the Tax Credit for Competitiveness and Employment, CICE.

When he took power in 2017, Macron abolished the wealth tax (ISF) paid by the richest people. The result was that the incomes of the richest increased by 10% that year. In 2018, their incomes increased 27%. In ten years, the fortunes of French billionaires have multiplied by five.

Today the virus is a “good” excuse to shower money on the big bosses. On September 3, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a 120 billion dollar “recovery plan” for businesses. Big capital will benefit above all.

Instead of mass unemployment, demand mass hiring!

There were 320 layoffs on the island between April and July 2020. That’s one third more than last year. During the first six months of last year, 4,200 private sector jobs and 900 temporary positions (43% of all temporary jobs) disappeared in Guadeloupe. Unfilled positions were cut in half. Every month, 1,000 more people sign up for national unemployment compensation (RSA)!

Faced with mass unemployment, demand mass hiring! In Guadeloupe, there are major public utility tasks to do: a water system to completely rebuild, schools to bring up to standard, roads to repair, hospitals to fully staff. Instead of mass unemployment, we must all work less in order so all can work, without reducing any workers’ pay. We must distribute the work among all without cutting pay. It is not normal for some to burn out from work while others are unemployed.

Public money must no longer go into the pockets of the richest. It must be used to improve the daily life of the population!

In this situation, a revolutionary communist workers’ party would make it possible to grow the struggles to meet the basic needs of workers and ordinary people—by taking money from the very wealthy to finance them.

This is our program. It is transitional, because the ultimate objective of revolutionary communists is social revolution: the expropriation of the wealthy, and power in the hands of workers and the poor.

The true emancipation of workers from all forms of oppression, colonial and capitalist, will not happen without the destruction of the capitalist system on a planetary scale. This deadly system which generates wars, famines, racism, and exploitation will have to be replaced by a system which first of all will satisfy the interests of the majority, ordinary people.