Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Solidaires on Crisis and Recovery

The text below is a rough translation of the leaflet issued by the French trade union Solidaires. The original text can be read on the Solidaires' website.

A return under the signs of the crisis

Extreme Reaction!
The opening began with a powerful act, sentencing, on 1 September, of employees at Continental to suspended prison sentences. We are reassured, employers will not be able to transfer production after pocketing state subsidies for years, but they have not been brought to justice!

A few days later we learned that the bank had provisioned billions of euros to pay bonuses to its traders to reward them for their speculation. The banks, which have been saved by public money, that is to say ours, all to the good. The Stock Exchange along with the 10% richest households who own half of the total assets of the French were therefore do not have to worry. But For the 400, 000 people who have been dismissed since the start of the year are right to worry because despite the rhetoric, the crisis is not over for them and the job losses will continue.

The government attacks too. The summer was conducive to mischief, such as changing the legislation on Sunday working. The proposed change of status of La Poste – establishing it as a public-limited company, the first stage of privatization, the announcement of an increase in cost of hospital treatment, reductions in medicine reimbursement, attacks against pensions, excluding losses jobs in the civil service.

The question is whether all this will still continue or if we will be able to bring a halt and force a change in policy. From this point of view, the unity between unions built over the past six months is a considerable asset. However, decisions taken after the great day of 19 March, which saw more than three million people in the street, were not up to the situation and failed to engage in the arm wrestle necessary to make the government yield.

It is the responsibility of the union movement to make proposals for action that enable effective mobilization of employees: supporting the national struggle in progress, to coordinate and prepare an inter-union general strike.
The crisis is not over!
Unsurprisingly, the slightest tremor of the economic situation is presented as the beginning of the end of the crisis. Beyond the indecency of speaking of an end to the crisis while layoffs continue, unemployment explodes and purchasing power decreases, some take their desires for reality.

Financial System has not been cleaned up
The financial crisis seems over. The banks were bailed out with public money and were able to restore their profits without changing their usual behavior. However, nothing has fundamentally solved. Firstly, the problem of "toxic assets" from the subprime crisis is not yet resolved whether in the United States or in Europe. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported in April that there remains 750 billion dollars to depreciate in European banks!

In addition, a number of bombs remain hidden in the financial system. First, the leveraged buyout (LBO), takeovers through debt. In France alone, LBOs accounted for 60 billion Euros, of which half are non-refundable because of the crisis. More generally, banks may suffer the backlash of insolvent companies that cannot honour their debts. On the other hand, banks in countries of Central and Eastern Europe are on the verge of bankruptcy. But these banks belong to large western banks. Finally, the risk of new bubbles is possible because banks have revived in speculative operations, hence the increase in share prices.

Risk of recessionary spiral
The economic crisis is in full swing with the explosion of unemployment (9.4% in France) while the effects of the stimuluses, which in Europe and particularly France, were of low magnitude, are depleted. Governments, in view of budget deficits, are likely to limit government spending, which will inevitably have effects on economic activity. Household debt could no longer play its role of training, because, even beyond the fact that banks are reluctant to lend money in the current situation, households are already heavily indebted and for those who can are instead making precautionary savings.

There is therefore a strong risk that the recession will be fueled by two factors: first household demand will decline because of falling employment and purchasing power and secondly public expenditure cannot substitute for private demand.

In the best case, we will see a generally stagnant economy with mass unemployment for an extended period ... except with the adoption of a radical change in economic policy.

Therefore, the Trade Union Solidaires is fighting for a redistribution of the wealth produced which is favorable to employees with the objective of meeting the social needs and to meet environmental requirements.
Citizen voting on Post Saturday, October 3
The future of public service for all users. Is to translate this idea into reality as the National Committee against the privatization of La Poste has asked the president to hold a referendum on the future of La Poste.

The president decided to ignore this request and moved to have to have the Council of Ministers adopt the bill by July 29, with the intention of having parliament pass it before the end of the year. In this situation, the postal workers have begun a process of mobilization and the National Committee decided to appeal directly to our citizens and organize a referendum October 3 throughout France.

The aim is to force the government to reconsider its position to start a real public debate on the future of public postal service. Many contacts were made, especially with associations of elected officials, and mayors' s engage one after the other to hold consultations on the territory of their municipality.

Pour tous renseignements : For information:
Carbon tax: inefficient and unfair
For an environmental levy to be effective, it requires both that the amount be a deterrent to encourage people to change their behaviour, and for people to actually have the opportunity to change their behaviour, otherwise this fee is completely unfair. It is clear that the carbon tax that the government wants to build does not meet either of these conditions.

All experts indicate that the amount must be at least € 32 per tonne to be effective. Now we face reality of the government action, who only decided to charge a 17 €. The idea of a green tax is trampled, emptied of its contents and lack inevitable result he will lose all credibility.

Moreover, the fact that this tax does not touch electricity will encourage increased consumption of electricity instead of imposing new building standards and more broadly encouraging restraint in energy consumption. The example of transport which remains the largest emitter of CO2, illustrates the government’s incoherence.

Everyone says it is transferring traffic from road to rail. But the government recently lowered the axle tax and announced additional tax offsets to help businesses on the road. Meanwhile, the SNCF does not recover all its business tax and announced the removal of its 60% least profitable freight wagons.

Consumer behavior will not change if alternatives are not available. To encourage less car use requires the improvement of the quality and speed of mass transport. Lower consumption of energy for heating requires a policy of massive renovation of buildings. Offering a choice for an alternative consumption requires a policy of transferring traffic from the road to more environmentally friendly modes of transport, redirecting investment to renewable energy and environmentally sustainable projects, protection and collective financing of global public goods such as energy, forests, land and water ...

The carbon tax will not stop the rich continuing to behave as before and the other being struck blind for behaviour they have in most cases have not selected and they will often be unable to change.
Solidaires supports the International Day of mobilization for decent work at the call of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on 7 October
Retirements the heavy blows are being prepared
Fran├žois Fillon makes no secret the government wants to postpone the age of retirement to 67 years to the delight of the MEDEF. The Council Directing Retirements (COR) is preparing for the beginning of 2010 a new report discussing its projects in order to end the current pension system. The reforms, or rather counterreforms of Balladur in 1993 and 2003 and by Fillon through the special schemes of 2007 and measures taken for the supplementary pensions in the private sector, have already led to a decrease in the level of pensions.

And yet government and MEDEF want to continue.

The argument is always the same: we should work longer as life expectancy increases. Yet the fact that it increased for several centuries did not previously prevent the reduction of working time or the age of retirement. It is however possible to balance the pension system by increasing slightly the contributions employers. The competitiveness of firms, which we are always hearing of, could at the same time be saved if we lowered the dividends to shareholders, which have increased considerably in recent years, by the same amount.

Obviously the MEDEF and the government deny that they are committed to raising the age of retirement by seven years! More pernicious still is the project discussed the COR, which seeks to overturn the current system to establish a system by points based on "actuarial neutrality”. Each employee would accumulate during his career a number of points whose value is determined by the agency following the retirement needs of the moment. Not only the pension would depend on the entire career and not of the best years, or six months in the public service, but the employee in this system is not guaranteed the amount they will receive. This is now implemented with private sector supplementary pensions.

The introduction of actuarial neutrality, whereby the money collected during the period of retirement must match those paid during working life, involves the introduction of life expectancy at the time of retirement as a variable for calculating pension.

As life expectancy increases, the pension would drop ... requiring workers to work longer. Moreover, such a system would be particularly disadvantageous to women whose life expectancy is higher than men and as they are also victims of discontinuous and precarious careers, could potentially have their pensions amputated.
Retirement for women: the sham of government communications

Currently, women working in the private sector women receive a two year benefit when they have a child. The government, after trying to challenge this provision, has announced its support.

In fact, it has decided to make the benefit for one year and leave the choice of another year to be taken by either the man or woman.

While women have already a much lower pension than men - 44% of women validate a full pension against 86% of men - such action would further exacerbate inequalities. Moreover, rejecting in the private sphere that which is a public policy is unacceptable.


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Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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