The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members of L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in France.

March 20, 2017

Philippe Poutou, To express the needs and the anger of the working class

Philippe Poutou is running for president. He is a worker at Ford Blanquefort, near Bordeaux, and goes through the campaign at the same time as he fights with his coworkers to save the 1,000 jobs in their plant. First and foremost in his programme to defend the workers’ interests, is the fight against unemployment.

The rise in unemployment weighs heavily on all aspects of life. It ruins the lives of those without jobs. The oldest ones have very little chance to find another job, while the youngest have to go through the pains of internships, temp jobs and fixed term contracts.

Mass unemployment also means a constant pressure on all workers. Collective layoffs are a permanent threat used to limit our demands. Add to this the threat of disciplinary layoffs in the private and public sectors, where aggressive management methods lead to workplace accidents, burnout, and even suicides as we saw recently in hospitals and in railways.

All the main candidates swear that tackling unemployment will be their priority. That’s a lie.

Fillon and Macron will not fight unemployment but the unemployed! One wants to impose a progressive decrease of unemployment benefits after six months; the other wants to force the unemployed to accept any job after two offers. Are the unemployed responsible for unemployment? Who will believe that, at a time when no wage earner has full job security?

As for the Lady of the castle of Saint-Cloud, Marine Le Pen, she pretends to talk to the people, but only to disseminate her sick racist ideas. According to her, immigrants are to blame for unemployment. But immigrant workers are not the ones who plan the layoffs. “National preference” would mean intensified competition among workers. It would mean accepting the rule of the bosses who organize the job market into a dog-eat-dog war. This is the exact opposite of expressing our solidarity within a common fight to change the balance of power in our favour.

On the left, with Hamon or Mélenchon, less aggressiveness but nothing new either. They both propose a “stimulus plan” of €100 billion in public spending. Give to the capitalists and god will give back to you 100 times. This would just be another gift to the bosses, after Hollande’s competitiveness agreement, which already gives them  €20 billion per year. We saw the result: an extra one million unemployed.

The truth is that the bosses profit from mass unemployment. All the politicians who pretend to attack unemployment without aiming at the capitalists’ profits are liars. They are simply preparing to help the bosses’ attacks, like their predecessors.

To stop the rise in unemployment, we must immediately ban layoffs and all kinds of job cuts, especially in major companies that are making profits. We must spread the work without job losses, as much as necessary for everyone to have a job.

The bosses disagree? Companies listed on the stock market have made €76 billion in profits this year, rising by one third from last year. This accumulated wealth could easily finance the fight against unemployment.

We will have to forcefully impose any policy that hurts their wallets. If the anger, accumulated by the working class for so many years, could be expressed in the streets, in strikes, in a general movement, then we would be in a position to impose this programme.

That’s what each vote for Phillipe Poutou would mean, a warning to the next government, whoever wins the election. With such a vote we will express the need for our coming fights.

To make the exploiters take notice, vote Philippe Poutou!