Over 5,000 people demonstrated last Saturday in Belfort against the planned 1,000 layoffs at General Electric. GE, Ford, Peugeot, Carrefour: the government is an accomplice to the large corporations that are laying off employees, and is leading by example with job cuts in the Post Office, National Railways, Hospitals and Education. We can expect nothing good from administrations and politicians, – vultures in blue, white and red – who are more concerned with their own positions than with workers jobs. But this is not inevitable: to save themselves and prevent layoffs, workers can count on their own strength.
The stockholders’ dictatorship
The large capitalist corporations, French or foreign, treat workers like tissues that can be thrown away after use. They never lose in their planetary game of monopoly. When in temporary danger, or just to raise their stock price, they layoff hundreds of workers, as does GE in Belfort, without thinking about the consequences in the local area.
GE promised 1,000 jobs five years ago. Bosses’ promises are just like politicians’ promises. The industrial advisor to Macron at the Economy Department, who oversaw the buying of Alsthom’s energy division by GE in 2014, is now head of GE France, overseeing the layoffs! The current Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is lying when he pretends to have heard the news of the layoffs at the same time as the workers, just after the European elections.
The governments are only adjusting the conditions of the dictatorship of the large corporations on the economy. They suck up to those they call “investors,” decreasing their taxes, giving them subsidies, financing their infrastructure, and attacking the few legal protections workers had gained through fights, in the name of “competitiveness.”
Soft with the powerful, Macron is hard on the weakest, like his predecessors
In the middle of a wave of redundancy plans, the unemployment benefit reform will bring misery to the unemployed. These brutal measures, one the one hand will save money on the back of the poorest, and on the other hand will point to the unemployed as responsible for their unemployment to exonerate the bosses who lay off workers.
Against the attacks from the government and from our French bosses, “economic patriotism” is just a smoke screen. This is a laughable smoke screen, when it is put forward by those who had been in government before Macron and had pursued the same policy as he is now. But it is also dangerous, like all the nationalist lies of the far right, even when advanced by left opportunists like Mélanchon.
Workers can have no interest in defending “French industry”, as this means politically agreeing with the French bosses, with the downsizers who had the nerve to call for the Belfort demonstration. Large French corporations lay off as many workers as other corporations, with profits as only guide. The State, when it was part owner of Alstom, had proceeded with the first wave of layoffs before selling part of the corporation to Bouygues. A very French boss made a nice profit after selling the energy division to GE!
Against national unity, workers unity
Even with their back against the wall, threatened by layoffs or plant closures, workers have great strength in their numbers. But only if they join forces. The Ford CGT union led by our comrade Philippe Poutou, which have fought for 10 years against the closure of the Blanquefort plant, issued a call pointing this way: “We are convinced that the outcome of our fight, as many other fights, depends on what we could achieve all together.”
The long battle against layoffs is not lost yet. The outcome will depend on the balance of power, with the bosses and its government on one side, and, on the other side, workers from all industries, already threatened or not, from the private and public sectors.