The Spark

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

France:
Make the Post Office Serve the Population

Sep 28, 2009

The following article was translated from an editorial in the September 25th issue of Lutte Ouvri re (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group active in France. What is happening to the post office in France will sound very familiar to postal workers and customers in the U.S.

The Parliament is prepared to ratify a change in status of the Postal Service. This bill, which the postal workers struck against at the beginning of the week, concerns every worker, and, in fact, all the laboring people.

It’s not only that the 7,700 jobs eliminated in the Postal Service this year alone, with more threatened, makes unemployment worse. But also, the attacks on public services affect every worker’s living conditions. Turning public services over to private capital makes them more expensive and access to them more difficult. It means demolishing these services.

In this capitalist society where money is king, the postal services, education, health, public transit, telecommunications, the provision of water and energy, and waste removal all need to remain or become once again public services. They mustn’t be organized to yield private profits, nor be submitted to the stupid inhumane laws of the market. These services must satisfy community needs.

When the postal service was somewhat sheltered from competition and the race for profit, it served everyone, even the most remote villages, criss-crossing the country with a dense network of post offices. The rates were affordable.

But over the past several administrations, those of the right but also those with socialist and communist ministers, the pursuit of profit was introduced into the postal service. Postal services were opened to competition. These government maneuvers have already led to the disappearance of one post office out of every three, the cutting of hours in some post offices in the neighborhoods and the lengthening of lines. With a third of the post offices gone, thousands of towns are deprived of postal services, forcing people to go to a larger town – a hardship for older and disabled people. And the closing of post offices and getting rid of postal carriers also affects the life of the community.

All the measures taken for the sake of profitability are reactionary measures. The evolution toward privatization is a step backward in society.

At one time, the postal service, by law, guaranteed a certain stability of employment. That guarantee is completely gone for the postal workers not already permanent government functionaries; temporary workers make up half the postal work force.

The administration swears that the postal service will remain 100% public. That’s ridiculous! When public enterprises like EDF (electricity), GDF (gas) or France Télécom (phone company) were privatized, the administration used the same lies! It’s not hard to figure out that private capital will lay hands on profitable activities. And, to make money off the backs of consumers and those working in this sector, the private companies will increase prices and drastically reduce the work force, imposing “flexibility” and job insecurity. Services will be properly provided only to those who can pay. Too bad for all others!

We say NO to a two-tier postal service, and to private profit at the expense of the users. Stop turning over the postal service to private contractors!

Only a determined movement of all the workers can stop the offensive of the bosses and the administration. Such a movement can’t be produced on demand, but it can be prepared and, in any case, it’s the only way to prevent the capitalists from making the exploited pay for the crisis of their economy!