The Spark

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

"Demonstrate the Force of the World of Labor"

May 26, 2003

The following excerpts are translated from an editorial appearing in Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper put out by the French Trotskyist organization of the same name. Adding its voice to the calls of other organizations for the workers to mobilize, LO proclaimed: "Make May 13 a demonstration of force of the world of labor."

This pretended reform is a grave attack against those who are retired, and those who will retire tomorrow.... Workers who are victims of layoffs at an age when they can no longer find work won't have enough years to receive a full pension.

But this is precisely the goal of the operation! Work more years for a reduced pension. By lowering wages and cutting pensions the big employers and the government decrease the share of the national income going to labor....

In a rational and humane society where the fruits of progress were shared by everyone, increasing productivity would lead to shortening the years of labor. In this society, however, the more that productivity increases due to the intensification of labor and speedup, the less the workers gain from it. The fruits of increasing productivity are exclusively pocketed by the employers, the rich class....

The people who govern us pretend that the class struggle doesn't exist. But what else can we call what they are doing to the workers? What else can we call their refusal to pay for coverage of many drugs? Of course it is class struggle when the government knows it will prevent hundreds of thousands of workers with the lowest incomes from being properly taken care of.

The reduction in the number of pubic service workers is yet another attack against workers, in two ways. First, because the fewer nurses, the fewer teachers, the fewer transit employees, the fewer letter carriers, the more the quality of public services will go down. But also because reducing the number of public employees aggravates unemployment at the moment when all the bosses are proceeding with mass layoffs.

The state, which refuses to prevent big business from proceeding with these layoffs, should create jobs itself. Instead the state as an employer is cutting jobs.

Every worker is able to see how their situation has gone downhill over the years. There has been a catastrophic decline in certain regions, because the closing of businesses plunges part of the population into poverty.

The attacks are so widespread that everything depends on the overall relation of forces between the bosses and the government on one side and the world of labor on the other. We can't let our condition continue to degrade. The teachers who refuse to accept it and are making their disagreement known through strikes and demonstrations are right and are showing the way....