The Spark

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

France:
We Are All Attacked, Let’s Organize a Response

Feb 4, 2013

The following was an editorial in the February 1st issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Strikes and Work Actions

There is a strike at the Peugeot factory in Aulnay against the plant closing; repeated work stoppages are growing in importance at all the Renault factories. The actions protest management’s blackmail in only leaving workers two bad choices: “work more to earn less,” or be laid off.

Workers at Virgin, Sanofi and Arcelor are demonstrating, as are Goodyear workers whose management is going to announce that it will close the Amiens factory with 1,200 layoffs. Next Thursday there will be a public workers strike against job cuts and the lowering of purchasing power.

Many workers are organizing to defend themselves. They are a thousand times right. Their fights must become the struggle of all.

Competitiveness Agreements and Layoffs: Two Ends of the Same Stick

The bosses have taken the offensive. With “competitiveness agreements” they are waging an all-out offensive. Peugeot management began its attack with an unprecedented plan to get rid of jobs, including closing the Aulnay factory. But the hostilities won’t stop there. Management has already announced that it wants to impose competitiveness agreements, now called “performance agreements.”

Renault management has now done the opposite. First, it wanted to force workers to move between plants, to lengthen the time they work and to freeze wages. After, it announced that it would cut 8,200 jobs, with the threat to strike two of its plants off the map if the unions don’t sign these agreements.

Flexibility Agreements with the Union

A job guarantee doesn’t mean a pay guarantee. The flexibility agreements that were signed between the bosses and the CFDT, CGC and CFTC unions authorize the lowering of wages as dictated by market fluctuations. A business would only have to claim problems for it to impose a cut in work time and wages. The so-called “socialist” government wants to write this into law.

And the bosses won’t fail to make use of this, because the crisis is slowing down business. Either the workers will force the big bosses to take a cut in their profits, or wages will be lowered. If the workers don’t make themselves respected, the bosses will make them retreat.

Stockholders Pocket Billions

There is no reason for workers to accept to make sacrifices. At Peugeot, will stockholders or workers make sacrifices? The Peugeot family and the stockholders pocketed eight billion dollars in profits in recent years. They have plenty with which to face the future, but not the workers, who have always been paid too low!

Who took in one billion dollars in profits in the first six months of 2012, plus 2.7 billion in 2011 and 4.5 billion in 2010? The Renault Corp., whose CEO Carlos Ghosn was paid 17 million dollars a year and explains that, if workers don’t accept sacrifices, their factory risks failing!

While Workers Are Laid Off

Unemployment is a tragedy for those who are deprived of a wage, but also for other workers, who live with a sword of Damocles over their heads.

The consequences of unemployment aren’t only economic. No one among the working people can escape them, not even those who still have a good job and a good wage.

French Workers Resist

The workers of Peugeot, Renault, and Goodyear, all those who fight not to be condemned to unemployment, are waging a justifiable fight. Like those who fight for their pay or refuse the worsening of their working conditions, it is a fight for everyone.

By refusing the dictates of the bosses and the government, the workers fighting today will show the way for a united reply.