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

October 16th, 2017

On October 15th, Emmanuel Macron held the floor for over an hour on the TF1 channel. He is happy with all his policies: rulings on the Labour Code, increase in social security contributions, decrease in individual housing assistance, cutting the wealth tax. He is also fine with his contempt for workers, who don’t belong to his class, whom he calls “lazy”, “the ones who are nothing” or, when they fight back, the ones who “stir things up”.

Targeting the unemployed

Behind the promised “transformation of the social model”, don’t expect anything but new attacks against the unemployed. The announcement about extending benefits to employees who quit is only to compensate other measures, and it will come with many restrictive conditions… in case we fancy quitting just to enjoy unemployment. When you think a worker is “lazy”, an unemployed one must be a common free rider!

Like for the Labour Code rulings, Macron begins a dialog with the bosses and the union heads – who are happy to play the game – only to impose the government’s plan. Surprise, it’s based exactly on the bosses’ demands. Macron’s rulings will cause thousands more unemployed. So the government is getting ready to cut unemployment benefits.

Macron had shown his hands in his electoral programme: he plans to cut benefits to the unemployed who refuse two job offers, or are not looking “hard” enough according to the unemployment agency.

An old tune

They are bringing back the old speeches about the ones who “take advantage of the system” at the bottom of the social scale. Speeches made by those who actually are profiting from the system, at the top of the social ladder.

The government and the bosses are not fighting mass unemployment, they are making it worse, for instance by making layoffs easier or increasing working hours. Mass unemployment allows them to make workers compete with each other, scare everyone who still has a job, and fuel the division between those who have a job and those who don’t.

In addition to increasing unemployment, they are happy for the unemployed to die without costing much. Indeed, unemployment, like work, kills: through disease or even suicide. Recently another laid off Goodyear worker killed himself, the 16th suicide since the plant closed in 2014. That’s what their decisions are causing: shattered lives.

It’s time to revolt

Unemployment is not unavoidable. Simple measures could end it. Banning layoffs would stop creating more unemployed. And sharing the work between all, without decreasing wages, to avoid having people kill themselves at work while others mope around without a job.

Since he was elected, Macron uses all the tricks to divide us: retired against active workers on social security contributions, public against private sectors, and now employees against the unemployed.

Let’s show him we aren’t fooled by taking all the opportunities to express our anger and prepare to fight back. We can use the day of strikes and demonstrations on October 19th against Macron’s rulings, despite the limits put in place by union headquarters, and prepare what happens next.