“De Juniac, resign”, “Management, resign”, “Valls, sold out to the bosses!” … “Fed up to be played off against each other”. This is how hundreds of Air France employees demonstrated Monday morning, interrupting the extraordinary Central Works Council. Two members of management wanting to escape any discussion… have lost their shirts. Valls and others condemn this “violence”. But isn’t the real violence coming from those who decide to cut 2,900 jobs, that is, to take more than the shirts of thousands of employees? In any case, the anger from all categories of employees of the company shows that the disinformation campaign against Air France pilots, called “selfish”, “irresponsible…” by management, did not work. The pilots had rightly opposed blackmail by refusing to accept a 17% productivity increase, with more flying hours, worsening of working conditions, etc.
What lies behind these attacks
Air France is not threatened and the company has increased its market share. The reason for the payroll cuts is simply to increase shareholder profits. The media hype about the pilots is just a trick to smear a better-paid category of employees before attacking the others. Management’s goal: save a billion on the backs of the employees and then pocket it. After the pilots, it will be the turn of the flight crews and finally ground staff will be targeted. And once they swallow the productivity increase, layoffs will begin, because increasing productivity threatens thousands of jobs.
Bosses used to layoff before increasing workloads, nowadays they increase the workload first to better layoff. In the end, the 70,000 employees of the company are targeted, and using them, the bosses and the government want to teach a lesson to all workers. Much like Reagan did in the United States against the air traffic controllers strike. The defeat of the strikers gave the signal for a wave of attacks and restructuring against the whole US working class.
A general offensive of the bosses
These days the government attacks are raining down. The Combrexelle report is the latest one. It plans the destruction of the few instruments in the labour law that allow employees to defend themselves collectively. At present, the labour law is meant to lay down a general framework within which employers can hire employees.
The government, more than ever at the orders of the bosses, wants to remove this protection and propose negotiated contracts. These contracts would no more apply to all workers or at least to all workers within a sector, but company by company, renegotiated every four years, with the possibility of increasing the working time, lowering salaries, etc. Obtaining the agreement of unions representing more than 30% of the staff would be enough to validate such changes in the employment contracts. And dissatisfied employee could be dismissed just like that…
Back to the 19th century?
What the bosses want is a return to 19th century capitalism. Moreover, de Juniac, the CEO of Air France, was obviously jealous of the Qatar Airways Director who told him that in his airline strikes were not possible because “the strikers would all be sent to jail”.
Against these modern slave drivers we will have to retaliate strongly. The trade unions CGT, Solidarity and FSU call to mobilize on October 8. This will be an opportunity to be heard. But to change the situation, the working class will need to build a global response to the attacks!