Just when we hear that the unemployment fund is back in the black, the government and the bosses plan to reduce the amount and duration of benefits. They also tell us that retirement funds are compromised, and with Macron’s new pension system based on points the periods of unemployment and low wages will count in the calculation of benefits, making sure pensions will go down.
And yet, exactly ten years ago, when the financial system crashed due to speculation that enriched a lot of bankers, causing banks and investment funds to report colossal losses and become bankrupt, American and European states found billions to rescue them in just a few days.
Ten years after the crash, dividends are crazy high again: they should reach $1,350 billion in 2018, equivalent to Spain’s GDP. But economists are already predicting the next economic crisis…
In the capitalist system, crises will always occur: they are part of how the system works. Each capitalist wants to increase market share to increase profits and, because of the competition, hiccups occur periodically. When this happens, bosses close factories and offices, layoff and freeze salaries. Before 2008 capitalists made the real estate market soar, in the US but also in other countries like Spain, pushing workers to buy homes on credit. That was before bankers increased loan rates, bankrupting buyers and bursting the bubble, taking down the rest of the economy.
The banks were saved with public money, then the bosses and the government made the people pay for it. Greek workers payed dearly with major cuts in wages and pensions. Everywhere unemployment has skyrocketed.
And if unemployment has recently started to come down, maybe, that is thanks to precarious and poorly paid jobs, on fixed term contracts, temporary, or part time.
Since 2015, the government has been claiming that the economy has recovered, but that is true only for the big stockholders. And while the government boasts about the small economic growth, bosses keep laying off. Rather than hire, they prefer to force us to work overtime, which they then use as a way not to increase hourly wages. And the Macron government encourages them by cutting taxes on overtime, again!
The layoffs that followed the 2008 crash have not been without responses from workers. Many fought for their jobs: at Continental, New Fabris, Molex, Freescale, Goodyear, PSA Aulnay, Trois Suisses, La Poste, SNCF and many others. Unfortunately, these fights stayed separate and did not grow into a global fight, a general strike: a new May 1968 that would reverse the balance of power between workers and bosses.
There were also revolts against unemployment in the Arab world that fell several dictatorships, and the revolt of young people in the US with Occupy Wall Street, and in Spain and Greece with the indignants. These fights raised a lot of hope, but they were side-tracked to an electoral dead end.
The Wall Street protestors, in 2011, called themselves the 99%, against the richest 1%. Since then, inequalities have kept rising in favour of the 1%. And Macron’s new tax reform (removal of the wealth tax, fixed deduction on capital income, etc), about to be passed in the House, will help the richest 1% even more at the expense of the 99%.
So, more than ever, fights are necessary. To stop the new attacks from the bosses and retire capitalism, without any benefits.