France: Friday, April 23 –All Out for Workers in Entertainment; Stand Up Against The Unemployment Insurance Reform, Layoffs, and Underemployment!

April 19, 2021, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French

The movement of workers in the entertainment industry is spreading and getting organized; dozens of occupied places are coordinating, in about twenty cities. Next Friday, April 23 they call on all sectors to mobilize and demonstrate “For the repeal of the unemployment reform insurance, for our health system, against layoffs, job cuts, and precariousness…” The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) of theater, and the Solidarity, Unity and Democracy (SUD) Confederation of Culture, teachers’ organizations, and students, supported these efforts. There have been calls to action in cities, including Paris.

Workers in the entertainment industry call on all workers!

“Reopening cultural venues without basic social rights is useless” explains a person protesting at the Odéon Theater. The protesters’ first objective is to fight unemployment insurance reform, which would impact part-time workers first, and to call on others to join the fight – those who fight against the closing of sites, lay-offs and job suppression, against the obligatory overtime, those who have precarious contracts, in the private as well as in the public sector. In short, a fight against the real reasons for unemployment. For example, in Clermont-Ferrand, the theater protesters welcomed nurses and care assistants from the CGT-Health union; in Paris, the TUI (the multinational travel and tourism company) invited the protesters at the Odeon to the coordination meeting on the struggle against job cuts.

Against this murderous unemployment insurance reform

The unemployment insurance reform is aimed at all of us, unemployed or not. Starting July 1, the government wants to lower these benefits while simultaneously spreading them out over more months. According to a report by Unédic (National Professional Union for Employment in Industry and Trade), 840,000 people will see their compensation drop by an average of 20%, and for some by as much as 40%. The conditions for receiving unemployment benefits over a 24-month period are being reduced from 4 months of work to 6 months. Job seekers alternating between short contracts and inactivity will be the first to be penalized.

With such a government, and the bosses it represents, we are all potentially unemployed or precarious workers.

No worries for the billionaires

The number of billionaires in France has risen from 39 to 42, and their wealth has almost doubled this year (despite the crisis!) to over 500 billion euros. In the meantime, the government is multiplying aid to the very large employers with “recovery plans,” as they say: “Whatever the cost.” Le Maire (French Minister of Economy and Finance) is putting another 100 billion on the table. All this to “restructure” companies, to make them more profitable, which means taking money from public services, reducing the number of health care positions in the middle of a pandemic, and eliminating teachers’ jobs…

In 2020, in the private sector alone, more than 360,000 salaried jobs have already been lost. Hundreds of thousands more jobs are threatened, also in the public sector. The companies that are laying off workers are those that have received the most help: Sanofi, Air France, Renault, PSA and many others. While the workload is becoming untenable, the number of unemployed is increasing.

This Friday, April 23, part time workers will not be alone

However, employees of threatened companies are mobilizing, showing up here and there. Behind those of Renault or PSA, we now see employees from foundries and other automotive subcontractors. While those at TUI are trying to coordinate with others, and show up alongside the technical centers of Renault, the delivery workers are organizing against the their delivery platforms (UberEats, etc..). On April 23, the more sectors are represented wherever possible, the more it will be a step towards solidarity, which will make employers and government back down.