For weeks, there has been an increase in calls on social networks to block roads and roundabouts on November 17th. This action against the increase in gas prices is popular for good reasons: the government and the bosses are waging attacks to empty workers’ pockets. To fight against poverty, without playing into the hands of the bosses or the far-right, we must counterattack!
A legitimate anger
We have all the reasons to rebel now. Against low wages, which haven’t risen in years while inflation is on the rise; against small pensions dented by social security contributions; against benefits that stagnate or even decrease; against high rents; against the accumulation of taxes hitting workers, resulting in tax breaks for the rich.
Gas prices weigh down households’ budgets. Given that the VAT and other taxes combine into 60% of gas prices, we have as many reasons to take on the government than on the oil corporations, which make record profits thanks to oil prices going up.
The hypocrisy of “green taxes”
How does the government justify the tax hike? An ecological emergency, they say! Higher prices are supposed to be incentives for alternatives to personal cars, and the taxes are supposed to fund the transition to new sources of energy. This is the height of hypocrisy.
What are the alternatives to cars in rural areas, where public transports are rare or in such disrepair that each ride becomes a gamble?
Will public transport networks improve thanks to taxing the poor? On the contrary: the government chooses the roads over the railways, which chronically suffer from lack of funding.
The constant increases in gasoline tax are not intended to help the planet, but to help the State budget weakened by all the gifts to the bosses. In the end, these tax hikes find their way into the capitalists’ wallets through subsidies and tax breaks.
Certainly, we must take care of the environment, but by fighting the true culprits: polluting companies, automakers who cheat emissions tests, and the State, which should provide free public transports. Workers shouldn’t have to use their wages to go to work.
Who can we count on to fight back?
These days, transportation bosses are the ones putting pressure on the government by threatening to block roads on a Saturday. Some of them already enjoy reductions in gas taxes. Together, they know how to defend their interests, which are very different from their employees’ interests.
The unions and the left rightly criticise the far right for exploiting these threats to block the roads, but they propose very little to counteract all the succeeding attacks on workers.
And yet this passivity is what is allowing far right leaders Le Pen and Dupont-Aignan to try and use November 17th as an anti-Macron day in order to score in the next elections. But these people are not concerned with our wages. They only criticise taxes and ask for more tax breaks for the bosses. Their demagoguery will not help the working class at all.
Going on the offensive
Workers have been on the defensive for years. Today, millions of employees are angry at the high cost of living. It is urgent that they seize the initiative with their own demands: a general increase in wages and pensions and indexation of wages to consumer prices (including gas prices). Without falling for the miraculous “decrease contributions” that decreases social budgets and therefore ends up being paid by the working class. We can only make the bosses and their government back down through mass mobilisation.