FRANCE An appeal by the National Bureau of the POID (Democratic Independent Workers Party) Prevent the threatening disaster

Certain disaster threatens our country. 

The health crisis that is hitting the country is combining with the destruction of half a million jobs in two months. By the bosses’ and government’s own admission, millions of jobs could be destroyed in the coming weeks. On top of this, there is the food crisis that seeing more and more families unable to feed their children correctly. Also, there are the attacks on democratic rights. 

Certain disaster threatens our country. Everyone knows this. But nothing is being done to prevent it. Even worse: the government and [employers’ organisation] MEDEF are taking advantage of it to go on the offensive against all of the labour and democratic gains won through struggle. In particular, they want to use the crisis to deregulate and extend legal working time (notably by widely extending deregulated teleworking), and to bring about the artificial bankruptcy of the Social Security system in order to be able to get rid of it, doing all of this in order to increase the exploitation of the workers. 

On the left, the parliamentary representatives of the political parties – Socialist Party, Communist Party, France Unbowed – voted along with their Macronist, right-wing and far-right colleagues in the National Assembly on 19 March in favour of the budget bill tabled by the government that offered 343 billion euros to the bankers and the capitalists. 

343 billion euros: a windfall for the bosses. On the one hand they are pocketing billions, and on the other, they are rolling out more and more restructuring plans. The MEDEF and its representatives are claiming that it is not possible to do anything else. On the left, the leaders of the political parties are voicing criticism, but they remain silent on their own vote in favour of the 343 billion. Those same leaders are issuing more and more initiatives and appeals in which they formulate proposals on what should be done if they were in government. But those proposals are within the framework of respecting the institutions of the Fifth Republic and their schedule: the (presidential and legislative) elections 

will be held in May and June 2022. So, should Macron be given free rein for another two years to carry on his disastrous policy of destruction? 

There is an urgent need to prevent disaster. Not in 2022, but now, right away! The measures to do so are already known to all: order a ban on lay-offs and the maintenance of all wages and income for the workers; guarantee the free mass distribution of masks and other forms of personal protection, testing-kits and the foodstuffs needed by the population; immediately withdraw all of the current counter-reforms (pensions, unemployment insurance, the baccalaureate qualification); block the government’s and the MEDEF’s intention to put the length of legal working time into question and to extend job flexibility widely. 

Yes, the necessary measures are known to all. They involve ending privatisation and renationalising the public services that have been destroyed. They involve recruiting the tens of thousands of care personnel who are needed to avoid our being subjected to a new health disaster, ending all of the hospital restructuring plans and reopening the wards, units and beds that have been shut down. They involve hiring the tens of thousands of teachers who are needed to organise remedial classes, and cancelling all class and school closures. 

In order to do this, it is indispensable to confiscate the 343 billion (which has since become 400 billion). It is also indispensable to carry out the nationalisation of the banking system without compensation or repurchase, the precondition for an economic recovery that starts from the needs of the population and not the capitalists’ requirements for profit. 

Let all the organisations that claim to stand for the working class agree on a plan for struggle and mobilisation to impose such emergency measures; let them declare that they will not hesitate to pose the question of power in the form of a workers’ unity government bringing together the workers’ organisations and representatives in order to impose this emergency programme and break with the bourgeoisie and its institutions. There is no doubt that the workers and youth will respond enthusiastically to such a call to take action and organise to make sure that their vital needs prevail. In these conditions, disaster can be prevented. 

To do so, of course, we cannot leave it up to Macron. On the contrary, we need to break with him and his policies, without delay, not to replace him with another “man of the hour” in two years’ time, but to put an end to the Fifth Republic, that authoritarian and autocratic regime, and to convene a sovereign Constituent Assembly through which the people themselves will define what democracy should be about, without hesitating to challenge the straitjacket of the European Union and its treaties. 

This is the orientation of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID). The National Bureau of the POID proposes that discussion meetings be held in the coming weeks in every département (1) and every city and town around the proposals of the POID and La Tribune des Travailleurs [Workers’ Tribune]. It will be a question of helping to rally the forces that are fighting for unity, fighting to open up the path to breaking with the bourgeoisie and its institutions, fighting to prevent disaster and enable a workers’ solution to the crisis. For POID members, these discussions form part of preparing their annual congress, due to be held in September. All readers of La Tribune des Travailleurs are invited to attend these meetings without any precondition other than their interest in the discussion needed to save the country, the workers and the youth from the looming disaster, to open up the path to workers’ unity and, as far as we are concerned, to strengthen the workers’ party that is necessary for victory.  

May 16, 2020 

(1) Translator’s note: A département is an administrative political unit roughly equivalent to a province or county, located between the regional level and the local commune level. There are 96 départements in metropolitan France, which today are grouped together to form 18 regional units, plus 5 overseas départements, which are also classified as regions.