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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #305 - Spotlight, Economic crisis: Oppose layoffs and shock strategy (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 18 May 2020 10:20:19 +0300

Blocking of dividends from shareholders, reconquest of robust unemployment insurance, requisition / self-management of companies that are closing, workers' right of veto over redundancies... What unifying claims, what watchwords to retain for a libertarian strategy of opposition to the explosion of unemployment and layoffs ? ---- The coming economic crisis will be extremely severe. In an economic note dated April 9, INSEE estimated the reduction in activity in France at around one third of GDP (-36%), including -43% for industry, -88% for construction and - 39% for market services (shops, hotels, etc.). Household consumption was down 35%. ---- The containment has caused an economic shock which will be amplified by a financial crisis which will be worse than that of 2008. Logically, entire sections of the economy will sink into the doldrums, and this will result in plans for massive layoffs. As a result, we can expect a rise in revolts: occupied factories, "war treasures" (machines and stocks) locked up, sequestered executives ... In short, the whole ordinary repertoire of struggles against layoffs.

But this will only be the tip of the iceberg, because the massive degreasing that will strike the precarious proletariat in all its diversity (temporary workers, fixed-term contracts, self-employed workers, freelance workers, freelancers, etc.) or the employees of very small businesses (VSEs) are likely to remain individualized, and therefore invisible.

Because of their collective visibility, workers in large companies will no doubt play a leading role in opposing layoffs. To federate beyond each particular site, they will need one or two common demands. But to federate the proletariat even more widely, demands will be needed to respond to all the situations of unemployment.

What unifying demands can the social movement propose ? And the libertarian communists ?

In all cases, these claims must follow a guiding idea: capital must pay . Capital is never anything but the sum of the material and immaterial wealth produced by the wage earners, and appropriated by the capitalists. The country has suffered neither war nor bombardment. Its infrastructure is intact, as is its food production and housing stock. So no one should find themselves in misery because of the crisis. Ensuring the subsistence of each and everyone must correspond to a legitimate redistribution of wealth . In short, capital must pay.

And for that, the most universal claim is the reconquest of a high level unemployment insurance securing each and everyone whatever the setbacks of the companies where we are hired. The CGT defends an enriched vision which it calls "Professional social security". This means high contributions, which could lead to a "pooling of employers' responsibilities ", the wealthiest economic sectors being more involved.

To prevent all this wealth from evaporating unnecessarily, we must demand the blocking of shareholders' dividends , that their companies have received public aid, or that they have made fabulous "coronaprofits" like Auchan or Carrefour. And, in view of a lasting drop in unemployment, there remains a solution that goes in the direction of history: reduce working time to 32 hours, reduce the retirement age to 60 , thus unlocking hundreds thousands of hires.

However, for employees struggling against the closure of their mailbox, the demand for solid unemployment insurance (like that of a big starting check) can be seen as defeatist. So something else is needed. The "dismissal law", a traditional demand of the Trotskyist " emergency program" has a lot of visibility, but is not satisfactory.

It calls for putting the fate of workers in the hands of the state and the government, while the crisis must be a means of advancing the question of popular power. Before UCL, Alternative Libertaire thus claimed the workers' right of veto over redundancies . The Union Syndicale Solidaires claims a similar idea: a "suspensive veto right" of the ESCs.

Finally, in certain cases, notably that of perfectly viable and socially useful companies, but which are closed due to capitalist combinations - Luxfer for example - a watchword is essential: socialization under workers' control . Or, failing that, taking over in the wild, in self-management , with popular support if the product is suitable. For companies whose social utility is questionable, the question of retraining must be asked.

All these approaches must be quickly debated so that UCL has a clear strategy in the fight against unemployment, collective redundancies and the closure of productive sites useful to society. With claims rooted in the reality of today's society, but oriented towards an anti-capitalist and self-managing horizon.

Guillaume Davranche (UCL Montreuil)

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