By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples' Struggle
4 April 2006
For more than a month now, French workers, students, professionals and ordinary people in France, have poured into the streets to protest the new law that allows capitalists to fire young workers without giving any reason. The new law pushed by Prime Minister Villepin, First Employment Contract (CPE), allows employers to end job contracts for under-26s at any time during a two-year trial period without having to offer an explanation or give prior warning.
On March 18, an estimated 1.5 million took to the streets against the new law. Last week, more than a million marched in the streets as they rejected a compromise being offered by President Chirac to introduce another law shortening the trial period to one-year. During the month of March, street actions have been staged by the protesters almost daily.
This new upsurge of protests among the workers and youth comes at the heels of violent protests by migrant youths in the poorest communities against perceived discrimination in job opportunities and other social services. Unemployment among the youth stands at 20% which is double the national average. In the poorest neighborhoods where migrant workers live, unemployment among the youth can run up to 40%.
This new attack on workers' rights shows the vicious inhuman character of the capitalist system. The capitalist class keeps on raising the profits that come from the surplus value extracted from the working class in the process of production. To do so, it takes away one by one the workers' rights won through hard struggle in the past and passes on the burden of crisis to the working class. At the same time, it always blames the crisis on the workers. It also focuses the worst attacks on one section of the working class after another, like those being laid off or already laid off, the immigrants and the young workers.
It is the internal contradictions inherent in capitalism that have brought about both the cyclical periodic crises and the cumulative structural crisis of capitalism manifested by permanent unemployment, stagnation and chronic financial crisis. The profit motive, the driving force of capitalism, restricts continuous progress. Capital only operates as long as it is able to sell. But capital itself constricts its own market when it fires workers who constitute the biggest portion of the market.
Villepin's argument that making it easier for employers to fire young workers will create more employment is an oft-repeated capitalist lie that has been used ad nauseam. This is utterly preposterous. The truth is that, with the unemployment running more than 10% on the national average and 40% among the poorest neighborhoods, the capitalists have a big reserve army of labor that they can manipulate to further press down the wage level and squeeze the workers. The capitalists can arrogantly say, "You better shape up. I have a thousand people to choose from with which I can replace you."
The new law is being used by the government as a demagogic tool to deceive and divide the working class by blaming unemployment on job security. They say absurdly to the unemployed, migrant and young workers, "You will have more chances at a job if capitalists can easily fire those young workers on the job!" The French workers and youth are seeing through the capitalist subterfuges and they are more determined than ever to continue their protests until the new law is scrapped. The French workers and youth deserve the support of all progressive and freedom loving people of the world.
The International League of Peoples' Struggle stands in solidarity with and supports the French workers, the youth, the immigrants and other people in their struggle against the unjust anti-worker, anti-young and anti-immigrant law. We urge them to defend their democratic rights and struggle more resolutely and more militantly than ever before. We call on the organizations of ILPS in France to participate in the struggle and all the organizations of ILPS worldwide to manifest their support.
Fight this new attack on workers' rights!
Expose the deception blaming the workers for the capitalist crisis!
Long live the French working class, the youth and the immigrants!
Long live the unity of the working people!
Long live international solidarity!