Feb 18, 2013
The following article is translated from the February 15th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
In 2012 in France, 266 factories of more than 10 workers were closed, one for every working day. And this policy continues with PSA at Aulnay, Goodyear, Arcelor’s steel mills, Petroplus, Virgin, Sanofi and Candia. Renault’s management boasts about not closing a factory, but it wants to get rid of 8,000 jobs, the equivalent of one or two factories.
The rhythm of closures is accelerating. So much for the usefulness of the ministry of “Productive Recovery”! So much for the hypocrisy of Hollande’s administration, which pretends to make the battle for jobs a priority!
The only ones fighting for jobs are the workers: at the Peugeot car company at Aulnay, the workers have refused to see the last big factory in the Seine-Saint-Denis department close. This department is hit with high unemployment and poverty. Goodyear workers also refuse to let their region become an industrial desert. There are the Renault workers and many others. And the ministry is hardly on their side when it comes to factory closings!
In this period of crisis, jobs and wages must be protected. Layoffs must be prohibited. It’s necessary for the survival of the workers and society, because factory closings lead to the bankruptcy of many small businesses and ruin the entire economy.
Instead, Arnaud Montebourg, the Minister for Industrial Renewal, sabotages the workers in struggle, and Interior Minister Valls prepares his troops to suppress them, as he did during the ArcelorMittal workers’ demonstration in Strasbourg, where a demonstrator lost an eye thanks to a rubber bullet.
The administration isn’t content to preach that the workers submit. It attacks them, on the side of the bosses. The flexibility law that the administration is preparing will be a new weapon for the bosses. It will give them the possibility to lay off more quickly and cheaply. It will permit them to lower wages, force workers to travel a longer distance to work and lengthen the hours of work. Workers will have the choice of “working more to earn less” or being laid off! This is the proliferation and legalization of the bosses’ blackmail. And, under the pretext of saving jobs, profits are going to increase.
Big business is ready to announce its results for 2012. The TOTAL corporation and Renault will have problems hiding their profits, but Arcelor and Peugeot have found a trick to show record losses: the depreciation of assets.
No, let the books of businesses be public and be controlled by everyone. Let’s get rid of opaque financial manipulations! Let the bookkeepers and employees say everything they know about businesses’ true accounts. No one is better placed than they are to see how much profit is made and what the stockholders get. The owners of the top 40 companies received 55 billion dollars in profits in 2012. Let us find out who got what!
And when the losses are real, let’s look where the profits of prior years went, what stockholders and owners got enriched by them.
The money is there. It’s necessary to take it to preserve jobs, wages and pensions.