The Spark

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

Retirement Is Not a Gift, It’s a Right We Must Defend

Jul 22, 2013

The following is a translation of an editorial appearing in Lutte Ouvrière [Workers Struggle] of June 21, regarding government attacks on Social Security pensions in France. It will seem familiar to American workers who see the U.S. government doing the same thing.

The French president, Hollande, announced a “new” reform of retirement. His reform will make people work much longer. He is going to push older people to work themselves to death. And his reform is going to make the number of those living in poverty explode.

In forcing people to work at least 43 or 44 years to get a full retirement, the reforms ensure that millions of workers will never obtain a full retirement benefit. Workers hurt by working on the line, all those forced to work at night or in shifts, women who raised their children – none of them may ever get a full pension. Laid off workers will never have enough put into the system. And the government dares to talk about justice!

Even those who get the full amount in retirement will see their purchasing power decline. Taxes on pensions are increasing and cost-of-living increases won’t keep up with the cost of living.

For 20 years we have heard the same refrain: “There aren’t enough funds for retirement benefits.” In so-called “reform” after “reform,” the government has raised the age of retirement and the number of years we must work and how the benefit is calculated. The result is that for 20 years, pensions have gone down. These “reforms” did not save retirees, they are destroying us.

It’s an outrage. Especially because there is money available to pay for pensions. For 30 years, a small part of society has gotten richer. The salaries of CEOs have gone up by hundreds of millions. Society as a whole is richer than ever but the money has accumulated only in the hands of a few – reaching unprecedented levels at the top.

The money to pay for retirement exists. Every year the government gives 20 billion euros to the big bosses.

Workers have a right to those billions because it is our work that produces this wealth. We must demand an accounting from all those parasites who have prospered off the exploitation of our labor and today make society go backwards.

Don’t let the bosses pretend that retirement is a gift. Retirement is not a gift. It should be a right, something we get after a life spent working and paying taxes.