The Spark

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

The War on Workers

Sep 12, 2022

This article is translated from the September 9 issue #2823 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

France has seen no lack of martial declarations in recent days concerning tensions over the cost of energy, what with the Defense Council on September 2 and President Emmanuel Macron’s press conference on Monday 5. The issue at hand was preparing the appetite for sacrifices which will be asked of the population.

“We are at war, that is a fact,” the president said. The Defense Council indeed initiated a quasi-military preparation of minds. The government has been hammering away for several months that everything is ready, that gas stocks are more than 90% full, and that there will be no problem this winter. But now the government also asks the entire population for “a general mobilization.” Without our complying with the “sobriety” he requests, he threatens rationing—even cuts.

For companies, this will mean reducing heat in offices and workshops. Some have already planned to reduce activity altogether, given the explosion in the price of electricity. Companies will ask—some already have—for a return to the partial unemployment enacted during the pandemic, with the government mostly paying for wages.

But as for workers, they will be told to tighten their belts. In addition to the cuts in pay, they are volunteered to consider cutting their gas and electricity consumption. This takes gall when many families are already making forced savings on gas, electricity, heating oil, and fuel. And “experts” like Macron himself shower us with advice such as turning off lights, lowering the heat, or putting lids on our cooking pans!

Of course, the government pretends to protect the population with a few gestures like energy checks distributed to the poorest, and an extension of the tariff shield which somewhat freezes energy prices. Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gabriel Attal praised this system put in place last year. It’s supposed to limit the rise in electricity prices at the regulated rate of 4%. But next year, this increase will be more like 10 or even 20%....

A good way to save energy would be to turn off the television when Macron comes on. This could also relieve stress!