Interviewed October 19th on RTL, François Hollande had to concede, about the early morning arrests of four Air France employees, as if they were dangerous mobsters, that “I think there are other methods”, before claiming that the government was not responsible. But when Valls himself calls the angry Air France demonstrators “thugs”, when Macron calls them “stupid”, the government is not responsible? After the hectic extraordinary Central Works Council at Air France, Valls did not merely insult workers threatened with redundancy, he then quickly said that the government “supports Air France management…” But where and when has anyone seen Hollande, Valls or one any of their Ministers stand on the side of workers since 2012, not to mention before.
Who are the aggressors and who are the victims? Air France executives – who decide and announce coldly 2,900 job cuts – would be the victims? The vast majority of workers made no mistake, many believing that the Air France executives only got what they deserved. And it is precisely because they feared such response of solidarity from angry workers that the government and the bosses have told lie after lie. They invented that a security guard was in a coma, and the following denial got much less press than the lie… They pointed their finger at the pilots, accused of defending their privileges because they refuse any significant extension of their work hours. But the weekly Le Canard enchaîné revealed that the 2,900 job cuts announced on October 5 were only a first round, with 5,000 more to be announced… after 2017: a plan clearly prepared long ago, with the attack on pilots simply being a PR operation to put the blame on them. But the biggest lie is the allegedly “disastrous” health of Air France, when the company is profitable… before paying exorbitant interest to bankers. A company where the salaries of the ten most senior executives have increased 19% in two years.
The government wants to promote “social dialogue”. But where Valls sees “a beautiful demonstration that social dialogue is alive”, is in the agreement on supplementary pensions in the private sector that three unions just accepted and which stipulates a freeze on pensions for three years and the choice for future pensioners between a loss of 10% of their pension for two to three years and a postponement of retirement by one year!
This is no “social dialogue”. This is a relentless war that employers, helped by the government, wage against the workers
How could any union dare to participate in the “social conference” that the government opened on Monday and which can only be a masquerade, rightly boycotted by the CGT and by Solidaires. This capitulation of some trade union leaders does not represent the feelings of the majority of workers, who felt solidarity with Air France employees. This feeling was expressed again to Macron who was received in the Lot area by demonstrators brandishing a shirt with the words “the next one will be yours”. Workers also identify with the gesture of the STX union rep in Saint-Nazaire who refused to shake the hand of Hollande and told him exactly what he thought of him.
Several unions including CGT and Solidaires have called for a demonstration in support of the Air France workers, in Paris and in several cities, on October 22, the day another extraordinary Central Works Council at Air France is scheduled. We must show up in large numbers.
Another demonstration is also planned for December 2, the day the indicted Air France employees will appear before the Court in Bobigny. But we will have to go well beyond expressing our sympathy with those who are struggling. We are all affected by the attacks that are now striking Air France workers, and the threats aimed at those who dare rebel against layoffs.
We need a response from the whole working class to stop the bosses’ arrogance and make them fear of losing much more than their shirts.