May 14, 2007
The following article is translated from an editorial in the newspaper Lutte Ouvri re (Workers Struggle), written by the French Trotskyist revolutionary group of the same name. It deals with the situation facing workers there after the recent French presidential elections.
The election of Nicolas Sarkozy means a government with social policies just like those of the previous government. For five years, the laboring people have faced some of the most reactionary and anti-worker policies in a long time.
The program of Segolene Royal would not have changed the fundamental problems, like the decline in purchasing power, unemployment and the disappearance of low-cost housing. Segolene Royal, if elected, might not have openly expressed the same arrogant attitude toward workers. Perhaps she would have been cautious about measures favoring the privileged in forms that were too provocative. But Royal had no desire to put the slightest limit on the absolute power of the big bosses. So, she would not have been able to respond to the most serious problems that today weigh upon the popular classes and a large part of society.
Sarkozy certainly will not change anything concerning these problems. And he may well further expand the problems affecting daily life. He has not hidden his intentions to do so.
For those needing a raise, he has responded by saying they will have to get up earlier and work more. To the homeless and inadequately housed, he will offer nothing, not even in words. The gutters will be just fine for them! Any economic growth he talks about is not for these people; instead it will be at their expense.
He wants to limit the right to strike, even forbid it if he is allowed to do so, beginning with workers in public services.
He has no plan to reduce unemployment. But he says he will go after those he calls the phony unemployed and the phony sick. By eliminating the social taxes on overtime hours, a measure he already announced, he will incite the bosses to work their personnel to death rather than to hire others.
Sarkozy announced he wants to reduce the number of public service workers, by replacing only one out of every two that retire. That will further disorganize these public services, worsen the situation in the hospitals, in national education and in public transportation.
He will continue the attacks on workers’ retirement, begun by his predecessors. In previous governments, the number of years required to work before retirement was increased to 37.5 years for workers in the private sector and to 40 years for those in public service. Sarkozy now wants to go after the last sectors of workers who have not yet been attacked, namely those with special retirement plans.
His whole policy is aimed at aiding the bourgeoisie, in particular the biggest ones, at the expense of the popular classes. He has programmed an additional five% reduction in corporate taxes, a ceiling of 50% tax on the richest people and a reduction in inheritance tax.
But working people don’t need to feel upset, because this election is not a catastrophe. Even if Segolene Royal had been elected, we would have had to struggle, to begin serious and determined struggles, if thing were going to change a little for us. With Sarkozy, the fights will have to be the same, just as determined, that’s all.
Everything depends on working people, on our consciousness that a ballot box is just a piece of paper and that only struggles can bring results. The main struggles that have taken place over the last dozen years have been during times when the right was in power.
So, do not let ourselves be beaten down. The future of society and of social progress depends on the workers. It is in our hands. Everything depends on all of us!