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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais

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Message  alexi Lun 4 Fév - 20:07

January 28, 2013

All together !
Against layoffs and against the shameful agreements !

The "flexi-security" labor agreements signed on January 11th by the bosses and CFDT (one of the major union confederations, linked to Hollande's Socialist Party), as well as a few other union confederations, pleased Michel Sapin, the Minister of Labor. CGT and FO refused to sign, and rightly so, this was the least they could do. This wicked agreement allows wage cuts and longer hours in case of "economic hardship". Bosses will also be able to force workers to work on a different site of the company ("internal mobility"). And layoffs will be made easier. This is nothing but a surrender to the wishes of Medef (the bosses' union).

Previously, PSA had announced 11,000 layoffs and the closure of the Aulnay plant.

At the same time, Renault announced it was cutting 8,620 jobs and wants to impose an even worse competitiveness agreement:
forced mobility, longer work hours, wage freeze for 2013 and microscopic raises for 2014 (+ 0.5%) and 2015 (+0.75%), which, taking inflation into account, means decreasing real wages. On top of this, Renault threatens to close two factories (in addition to the thousands of layoffs) if the unions don't sign the agreement. Firing half the workers and overexploiting the remaining half, that's the goal of these outrageous agreements.

Hollande and Medef, hand in hand against the workers
While the government of Prime Minister Ayrault has granted 20 billion euros in tax cuts to corporations, Hollande did not hesitate to use tear gas against the Florange steel workers who came to bring him a petition, and he sent swat teams to (attempt to) scare off the PSA Aulnay workers on strike when they went to meet with their comrades in PSA Poissy and St-Ouen.

Those 20 billions will go in large parts to Renault and Peugeot who are laying off thousands of workers, to the biggest construction companies (Vinci, Bouygues, Eiffage) that already bring in billions in profits, to big retail chains infamous for their low wages and precarious jobs; to ArcelorMittal who just broke another promise (after Florange) by announcing the closure of six steel factories in Belgium. These super rich corporations grab government gifts with one hand while they close factories and layoff workers with the other hand.

Other dirty tricks are in the work: while bosses are emptying factories and creating unemployment, the Counsel on Retirement proposes to decrease retirement benefits. At the same time, the General Accounting Office advises to decrease unemployment benefits!

So, how to fight back?

Bringing all our fights together, yes we can !
This was demonstrated last Thursday in Renault-Flins: the factory directors pulled no stop to prevent the PSA Aulnay workers to meet with their Renault comrades who had stopped work (locked doors, security guards and managers watching out). The 250 determined PSA workers were stronger. The moment when the euphoric PSA and Renault workers got together and fraternized was heart warming for all of them and for the millions of workers who saw it in the TV news. This shows that it is possible to bring fights together and break the isolation of individual factories.

New opportunities for workers from different factories or sectors to get together are already coming up this week: demonstration of striking workers from all Virgin stores at the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Jan 29th; demonstration of the workers from Licencielles, Goodyear, Fralib, Sanofi and a few others at the Ministry of Labor the same day; mobilizations at Renault the next day; and public sector employees on Jan 31st.

So let's organize a global fight! Yes we can!


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Message  alexi Mar 19 Fév - 8:54

February 11, 2013

Tunisia: "The people want a new revolution"

This was the catchword for the gigantic demonstrations held during the burial of Chokri Belaid on Feb 8th. One million four hundred thousands people followed his remains in this country of ten million inhabitants, where all economic activity had stopped due to the general strike called by the UGTT union. This was a display of force by youths and working people, directed at the islamist party Ennahda who took power over a year ago.

A murder to intimidate workers

Chokri Belaid was not just a human right militant, as the news media keep repeating. He was a union militant and led a coalition of parties on the left and far left, accused by the party in power to have encouraged the increase in sit-ins, strikes and demonstrations since Ben Ali fled the country two years ago.

The islamist government was supposed to end the labor protests that hindered business for the local and international bourgeoisie. This is why Ennahda was supported by all the leaders of the imperialist countries (including France) when it took power. It is easy for Manuel Valls (Interior Minister) to denounce the "islamo-fascists" today, but two years ago all the Socialist Party leaders greeted the new government as democratic and welcomed the upcoming peaceful, pro-business environment.

Religious demagogy was sufficient to bring Ennahda to power a year ago, but the preaches were never able to stop the workers' constant fighting. So Ennahda decided to use a heavy-handed approach, encouraging the ill-named "leagues to protect the revolution". Under police protection, these militias' mission was to terrorize working neighborhood women, to attack strike picket lines and unemployed sit-ins.

Last december, these gangs attacked the UGTT headquarters in Tunis with the government's blessings, the head of Ennahda called for "warrants against militants to clean up union locals." The murder of Chokri Belaid happened in the context of these provocations organized by the authorities to give up their fights.

The chickens come home to roost
But the spontaneous displays of anger and the general strike of Feb 8th -- with a high participation in the poor areas where the islamists had their best electoral scores -- showed that the working class won't bow to terror and intimidation. On the contrary, it is the government that is feeling a crisis: the Prime Minister announced a cabinet reshuffle, against the will of the leader of his party, who conveniently took refuge to London.

Facing such a debacle, the Tunisian and international bourgeoisies are quickly trying to propose an alternative: a "national dialog", between all parties, "to end political violence." At the forefront of this respectable political opposition we find a coalition of so-called democratic parties that comprise officials of the old dictatorship.

We need a second revolution
A new agreement between the bourgeois, religious and secular parties in the name of "national unity" will not answer the demands for democracy and social reform of the Tunisian people. While the bosses are attacking workers with layoffs and rapid price increases to compensate for the higher wages won after many strikes, who could think that a coalition of parties representing the bosses' interests will bring any relief to the exploited?

On the contrary, as the people shouted on Feb 8th, they need a second revolution, a social revolution this time. Not only to kick out the dictator of the hour, but also to put an end to misery and to the bosses who profit from it.


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Message  alexi Lun 25 Fév - 21:35

February 18th, 2013

Bosses and government destroying jobs, public services and social benefits: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !

If he wanted to upset Renault workers, he wouldn't have done it any other way: Renault's CEO just announced that he was ready to delay receiving the variable portion of his salary -- about 30%, that is, 400,000 euros -- until 2016. So Mr. Ghosn would not give up even that small part of his 12.8 million salary. With such indecent statement, does he really think he can convince Renault's employees to accept the "competitiveness agreements", that is, work more to earn less.

While Ghosn displays his wealth, PSA announces it "lost" 5 billion euros in 2012

PSA's loss is as fictitious as Ghosn's and all the bosses' wealth is real. Out of the 5 billion "lost," 4.7 billion correspond to "asset depreciation", an accounting trick anticipating, in case they were sold, a depreciation in value of industrial sites such as the Aulnay plant that management wants to close. As for the remaining 300 millions, they have been encumbered for the severance pay of 11,000 workers management plans to layoff. PSA itself admits that "this measure has no impact on cash flow and does not affect the liquidity or the credit worthiness of the company." Just a shift in book entries, thus, to make things look worse and justify the layoffs. In the meantime, cars are produced and cash flows in. Investors were not fooled: the very day that the 5 billion loss was announced, PSA's market value raised 2.5% on the Paris stock exchange.

Bosses and government: partners in crime
These same profiteers and exploiters complain of violence and terrorism when workers strike in response to their attacks, like the PSA workers have been doing for five weeks now. But where is the violence really coming from? Who pushed an unemployed man whose benefits ran out to set himself on fire in front of an employment agency in Nantes? Who is responsible for this violence, other than those who terminated his job?

But that's not all. As if the situation of millions of workers and retirees was not getting bad enough, the government started to talk about "austerity." The Economy Minister is planning spending cuts, the Prime Minister proposes to tax family allowances, and the socialist director of the General Accounting Office (he was appointed by Sarkozy) advises his mates in the government to freeze unemployment benefits or scrap free local transportation for senior citizens! In short: bosses and government are united against the working class, to make sure Ghosn, Peugeot and other big stockholders can continue to show their arrogance and implement their plans to screw workers even more.

Fight back the corporate thugs
Too much is too much, workers need to strike back. All the super rich who ask us to tighten our belt in order to fill their pockets even more deserve the anger that might be coming their way… if we all prepare a common response!

If we start putting together our forces at every opportunity, they will fear us. Last week, the Goodyear workers who demonstrated in front of the company headquarters had invited all workers fighting in other companies to join them. They were met by delegations from PSA Aulnay, Renault-Guyancourt, Sanofi, Arcelor, Fralib and many more. Journalists where overwhelmed when they saw workers from PSA and Renault fight together in Flins or Cleon. Let us wish they will be astonished again!

March 5th will be yet another opportunity to unite against the shameful agreements that a few unions have signed with the Medef at the national level.


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Message  alexi Mar 12 Mar - 16:41

March 4th, 2013

Against the shameful agreements, March 5th and beyond

200,000! That's the number of jobs that have to be cut, according to some economists sold to the bosses. In this fight against workers, the bosses know they can count on the government, which plans to make into law the agreements between Medef (the bosses union) and three union confederations, CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC.

"Securing…" layoffs!
The new bill's title is "securing jobs." What a misnomer. What's secure in this bill is not jobs but the help given to the bosses who want a more flexible workforce.

In fact, millions of workers have experienced flexibility and precarious jobs for years. The anti-worker bill is a way for the bosses and government to generalize this situation and ensure it is maintained in the future. The new law would allow bosses to force workers to move to a different factory with no distance limitations, decrease work hours, cut wages… whenever they say they have economic difficulties.

Today, an employee can, in theory, refuse to accept any of these changes. If the agreement became law, the employee would be fired for personal reasons.

The agreements also have a simple solution regarding the large layoff plans that have regularly been on the front pages because workers have opposed a fierce resistance, like at Fralib, Goodyear, Arcelor, PSA. A company agreement would decide the details of the redundancy plan, or even a simple letter from management registered by the Department of Labour. And if the administration does not reply within three weeks, the plan would fly. This way, even the biggest layoff plans would be managed within four months. Just to give as little time as possible for the workers to mobilize.

Nothing in it for the workers
The agreement's signatories point out a few vague guarantees the workers could get in exchange: "supplemental health insurance for all," "extra taxes for the companies" to prevent them from using short term work contracts, "resetting benefits" for everyone who exhausted their claims. These are nothing but empty words, since all those measures will have to be agreed upon in future, hypothetical negotiations. After seeing what came out of the recent negotiations between top union officers and bosses, it's hard to believe workers will get anything in exchange.

FO and CGT have refused to sign the agreement, which was the least they could do. However, by participating in the negotiations these unions have given credence to the idea that workers could get anything out of it and have validated the government's sham "social dialog."

200,000 layoffs, or 200,000 mobilized workers?
This social dialog is a fraud. Only our mobilization, to prepare a global fight, will be able to stop these brutal attacks on our standard of living and bring new rights to workers. The day of mobilization on March 5th is a step. A first step toward the global fight that we will have to wage.

Harsh and determined fights have already started. Like PSA Aulnay workers' fight, who have been striking against the closure of their plant since January 16. Like Air France freight workers' strike started on February 16th in Roissy and other sites. And workers from many other companies are fighting, at the DMI foundry in the Allier region, Candia in Sarthe and Auvergne regions, Sanofi in Toulouse, Montpellier, Lyon and Vitry, etc. What needs to be done now is to make all those fights come together, so other workers decide to join in. This is possible, this is the only realistic way to defend ourselves.

200,000 threatened jobs could become 200,000 mobilized workers, with the will to fight back and cancel the rotten agreements and the wicked laws. All together, to ban layoffs and impose our demands.


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Message  alexi Lun 18 Mar - 19:34

March 11, 2013

Pension reform: sounds familiar ?

The Minister of Social affairs, Marisol Touraine, warned last Sunday that "all French people" will have to make some "efforts." A familiar tune. The pension advisory council reappeared and made simulations that predict a grave deficit in… 2020! And made the usual advice: we should work more years, pay higher contributions, get lower benefits.

At the same time, the Medef and the union leaders, the "social partners" who seem to be really getting along, are about to announce an agreement on supplementary pensions: they will stop being adjusted with inflation!

A government at the service of big business

If nothing gets done, pension funds will be 20 billion euros in the red by 2017, according to "experts" appointed by the government. Twenty billions! That's the amount the Socialist congress voted to give as tax break to companies last December… A drop in the ocean of subsidies, fiscal niches and state commands that make the largest companies richer and richer. Not to mention the many breaks in employer contributions. These breaks alone amount to the deficit of social security.

Does big business need all this help? Despite the crisis, the bosses are not in such a dire situation. Profits of companies traded on the Paris exchange, published this week, tell a different story. "Cash reserves" of multinational companies have reached historic highs. Total itself is sitting on an 18 billion war chest.

But shamelessly, the government does not hesitate to take from the pockets of workers and retirees to fill the holes created by its gifts to the rich.

Back to the future

The ministers and other socialist big wigs sing an old tune from… Sarkozy, who had implemented yet another pension reform back in 2010. See, life expectancy goes up, so we have to work more. And pay more in contributions. And earn less, after and before retiring.

But what's a few extra months of life expectancy every decade or so, compared to the meteoric increase in the unemployment rate, now at 10.6%, drastically decreasing the number of workers contributing to pension funds? Who's responsible, if not the bosses who layoff massively and close entire factories, such as the PSA Aulnay and the Goodyear Amiens-Nord plants?

Unemployment also puts pressure on those who have a job, pushing them to accept lower and lower wages. A blackmail from the bosses that nowadays is being named "competitiveness agreements" and that the socialist government is trying to make into law. That also reduces the amount taken in by pension funds, since contributions are proportional to salaries.

We need to advance our own interests !

A ban on layoffs, division of available work amongst all until there is no more unemployment, wage increase
of 300 euros per month, all these measures could really "save retirement benefits." PSA workers, on strike for 8 weeks to defend their jobs, and Goodyear workers, are the ones who are really making an "effort" to stop widespread austerity. And it is Valls (the interior minister) who sends anti-riot troops.

Layoffs, precariousness, bosses blackmail, and now an attack on pensions. The circle is complete. At least, the situation is clear. Against the government and the bosses, if we want to stop the deadly attacks, we will have to fight all together.

- Ban layoffs and job cuts !
- Hands off our pensions !

Retirees, workers, unemployed, all together against the government and the bosses who destroy factories and kill jobs !


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Message  alexi Mer 27 Mar - 15:04

March 18, 2013
Are we going to be stuck on idle ?

Thousands of drivers were probably wondering about this last week while they were stuck in their cars because of the heavy weather in Northern France. The government gave the usual advice: don't get into your car unless you really need to. There is just one small problem, workers need to get into their car so they don't miss one day of wages. Logically, people in the affected areas should have stayed home, but for this to happen they needed to get the full day's pay, so the government would have had to force the bosses to pay. Might as well ask for the moon!

Many will remain stuck on idle if the tax on diesel goes up. The General Accounting Office pointed out that diesel was less taxed than regular gasoline (seven billion "lost") and immediately the government and the media discovered that diesel is a dangerous pollutant. So if diesel price gets a hike, or if people are forced to replace their old diesel cars, it will certainly be to improve the health of… the Finance Minister!

The government: voice and muscle of the bosses
On the other hand, the wave of antisocial government measures is not stuck on idle. The Minister of Social Affairs, Marisol Tourraine, warned that "all French people" will have to make some "efforts". We've heard that before. The government also used "experts" to tell us that pension funds will run a 20 billion deficit by 2017. Twenty billions? That's exactly the amount in tax cuts to businesses voted by the "socialist" house last December. Just above one third of all the profits made by companies traded on the Paris stock exchange.

So now the government and the Socialist Party are again saying that, since life expectancy increases, we should have to work more years before getting retirement benefits. That's exactly what Sarkozy was pushing just a few years ago, speaking the exact words of the Medef (bosses' union). So the change promised by the socialists before the elections isn't happening just now!

But while life expectancy has increased (and that's great!), labor productivity has increased a lot more. This improvement has translated into more profits for the bosses and they want to share less and less of those gains with the workers, active or retired.

Unemployment reduces the number of contributing workers, weighing incomparably more on pension funds than the increase in life expectancy. Despite its promises, the government has no intentions to take on reducing unemployment. Because to fight unemployment, it would have to move against the bosses who have been destroying jobs. It would have to take a stand against the bosses of PSA, Goodyear, Renault, Sanofi, Arcelor, and… the State itself.

Instead, Hollande announces "courageous choices" will be made this year, that is, another pension reform. That's the extent of Hollande's courage: always ready to attack workers and retirees.

With a touch of "social dialog" to lubricate the process. So the "social partners", being a lot more partners than adversaries, are about to sign (except CGT and CGC) an agreement that will untie supplementary pensions from inflation for three years. This will save two billion euros on the back of retirees. That's the well oiled machine for moving backward socially for you.

Go forward together, or move backward one by one
First was the national interprofessional agreement so called "competitiveness agreement", social regression ordered by the bosses and being put into law by the government. Now they're attacking our pensions, and add a few more taxes here and there, while companies are laying off massively. They will not stop asking us for more sacrifices. The only way to make them back up is to bring together all the isolated fights, to start a true global fight.


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Message  alexi Jeu 11 Avr - 22:38

April 1st, 2013

Austerity, from kindergarden to university !

When he was running for President, Hollande promised he would create 60,000 jobs in education to compensate for the 66,000 lost during Sarkozy's presidency. A weird kind of promise, since he also stated that the jobs created would be matched by job cuts in other parts of the public sector.

Take from one pocket to put in the other? Not even so !

And public sector job cuts there are, tens of thousand employees are not being replaced after they retire. Lack of personnel in hospitals has become dramatic. And despite the promises, this does not benefit education.

Far from it, under Education Minister Vincent Peillon, there were 13,000 teachers less in fall 2012, following in the preceding government's footsteps. As for the promised hiring in the future for education, they will only compensate for retirements.

We are not fooled !
Campaign promises did not succeed in putting teachers and parents to sleep. They responded in January and February against the "Peillon reform" that seeks to spread the four-day week in primary schools into four and a half days. Not necessarily a bad idea, but the means and staff to do so were missing, so teachers' workload increase and children cannot benefit from the reform without the necessary qualified personnel. And the financial amount distributed to city halls is way too low, so in many towns the daily class hour reductions will only translate into less after school programs that keep children in school later while their parents are at work. Once again, children from low income families will be most affected.

Through their mobilization, teachers have shown they've had enough of a reform without the means to do it, and they've had enough of the increasingly degraded work and study conditions in schools: classes overloaded with children, teachers not being replaced, frozen wages… No magic trick can hide the truth: whether it is four or four and a half days, better teaching will only come through reducing the number of kids per classroom, so each can be followed adequately. This would require massive hiring of school teachers and staff.

The strikes and demonstrations against this fake reform, so-called "school rhythms reform," were quite successful. So Minister Peillon authorized cities to delay the reform until 2014. The response was immediate. Only one quarter of kids in kindergarden and primary school will be affected by the reform next fall. A first insult to the government.

After austerity under the conservative government of Sarkozy, austerity under the "socialist" government of Hollande spares neither primary, secondary or university education. Reform after reform, Fillon's government had withdrawn the State from financing universities. The latest reform of the socialist government continues to damage higher education. So nowadays, half the universities are bankrupt.

Who benefits from these cuts ?
All those drastic cuts in necessary public services serve to pay for the corporate tax cuts that will amount to 20 more billion euros for this year's budget.

Layoffs and tax cuts obey the same logic in the private and public sectors. That logic is pushing unemployment numbers sky high. Workers from the public and private sectors, we will all have to fight for one common goal:

Stop layoffs and job cuts,
Share the work between all.


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Message  alexi Mer 17 Avr - 18:50

April 8, 2013

Cahuzac: a first class minister of the bourgeoisie

We feel "betrayed, fooled, devastated, outraged…" declared Hollande and his ministers, after Cahuzac admitted to having had a Swiss bank account, he who had "lied looking straight into their eyes." Who would have thought government members were so sensitive?

Peugeot's boss, Varin, had lied for months about the planned closure of the Aulnay factory, without the ministers becoming outraged of feeling betrayed. Same story when the American businessman Gary Klesch, like many other corporate thugs from France or elsewhere, took over several plants from the chemical corporation Arkema for nothing and closed them 8 months later. Again, no strong emotions or feelings of betrayals from the higher ups in either liberal or conservative parties. For those people, lying to workers is fine. Legal fraud to pocket millions and then fire employees, that's business as usual. It's just one of the rules, tricky but legal, of their bourgeois republic.

A servant of the system
Cahuzac's curriculum is a typical example of what a servant to capitalism is. Trained as a cardiac surgeon, he moved to esthetic surgery to make a lot more money. Not to mention going back and forth to positions in the Health Ministry and consulting for pharmaceutical companies. So he finally opened a Swiss bank account through a golf partner, a right wing lawyer close to Marine le Pen. With such a pedigree he was named Minister of Budget.

So the ex-Minister of Budget, who is supposed to fight tax fraud, was himself evading tax, following advice from his "fortune manager" and other lawyers specialized in "tax optimization"… whether the optimization is legal or not. Just like many fish who swim in the troubled water of capitalism, where the boundary between what's legal and what's illegal is not well defined. This is customary for the big corporations on the stock exchange, they know how to use all the legal arsenal to pay only an average of 8% tax on their profits, and they also know how to forget the law when it's convenient.

Their moral and ours
The Cahuzac affair shows that there is a lot of money around, hidden or not. This kind of people do not know what it is to suffer from the economic crisis. The government, instead of implementing austerity measures, could simply take the money from their pockets. But the government prefers to get the money from the workers' pockets.

The bourgeoisie is dividing the work: on the one side, the bosses cry with their mouth full and destroy jobs in the name of competitiveness; on the other side, their men in the government, trained to lie cynically like the bosses, make sure all the bourgeoisie's desires get transcribed into law. That is the normal functioning of capitalism. It certainly is harder and harder to bear. We have all the reasons to put an end to this obsolete system.

Their law and ours
So soon enough, working people, those whose wages are being cut, who are being exploited harder or thrown into the street, who have no fortune managers to evade taxes, will have to come together, massively, in the street.

But this won't be to beg for new ministers or even a new republic that will represent this dirty system as well as the previous ones. This will be to get the means to impose the rule of workers, very different than the rules of all those hypocrite bourgeois republics who carry zealously the dictatorship of capital.


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Message  alexi Lun 6 Mai - 19:17

April 29, 2013

The bosses whistle, who turns up ?

On the government's order, the House of representatives refused to consider the legislative draft about a possible amnesty to union militants who were condemned during social movements. Even though the bill had already been reduced to very little after passing the Senate. It did not even get to the level of the law passed under conservative Chirac in 2002.

The government justified itself saying that after the Cahuzac scandal and the homophobic violence that took place during demonstrations against marriage for all there should be "one single response, respect of republican law for all." To use its own cheat and the abuses committed by the extreme right to attack the workers, no one had done it before!

Cops terrorized by eggs

This refusal to grant even a limited amnesty to union militants aims at the very workers who were fighting to keep their jobs, like workers from Continental, la Poste, and many other companies. It is aimed also at PSA Aulnay workers, with eight striking workers who were fired for minor stuff like throwing eggs. The government sends anti-riot cops whenever Aulnay workers march to the Medef (the bosses' union) or PSA headquarters or elsewhere.

A few days ago, a union militant in Ales was sentenced to two months conditional jail, 1000 euros fine and five years ineligibility for having thrown an egg during a demonstration in 2010. It was said that with this single egg, he had traumatized no less than… 12 police officers!

The destruction comes from the bosses
Let's be serious. If any violence has occurred, it came from the bosses, its government, its police, its "justice". As PSA strikers put it, "the destruction comes from the bosses", who destroy jobs, destroy factories and call for armed cops against workers.

In fact, this refusal to grant amnesty, this judicial attack against workers who fight for their jobs, is first and foremost a sign of allegiance of the government to the bosses. A very clear message.

Showing good will to the bosses

On March 22, the pro-business newspaper Les Echos had this title: "To resume the discussion, the government must send "strong signals" to the bosses". What else do they want?

They got a 20 billion gift in tax cuts. They got the law to "secure jobs" which only secures layoffs -- a law written by the Medef itself.

But that was not enough. On Monday, Hollande gave in again to these long-teethed bosses who want to make juicy profits by trading companies: they will get tax exemptions on capital gains from the sale of a business!

In short, the bosses growl and what does the "socialist" government answers? Just go ahead with your social violence; you can layoff, exploit, put workers through hell, cut their wages! We will take care of the workers who want to fight, we will support you with our cops, our judges and… public money!

Showing them the door !
Against this cynicism and this violence, let's get ready and be in marching order. At a time of record unemployment, with layoffs still taking place and more is still to come, it is vital to raise our heads, to gather our forces, to show our anger.

We need to show that we will not be intimidated by those who want to bring us down.

Class warfare should not be waged by the bosses only.


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Message  alexi Jeu 23 Mai - 19:28

May 13, 2013

Lavish gifts from friends

Last Saturday, several tens of thousands of people gathered in Notre-Dame-des-Landes against the project to build a new airport. People have no need for a new airport since there is already an airport near Nantes that could handle a lot more traffic than it receives. The "Ayraultport", as opponents of the project have called it, is aptly named.
Prime Minister Ayrault, who used to be mayor of Nantes, is one the initiators of the project. Vinci got the contract to build and operate the airport. Vinci is that French construction company, with expertise in obtaining public contracts: highways, parking lots, airports, high speed railway tracks, municipal cleaning services… The taxpayers will finance at least one fourth of the total cost of the construction; local authorities have voted to lend 115 million Euros to Vinci that will have to be paid back… only if Vinci makes more money than expected. On top of all this, Vinci will get the profits from running the airport for the next 55 years. Obviously, they are thinking big!

Vinci and Veolia in corporate heaven
The Ayraultport is not a special case, nor a French phenomenon; it's just business as usual in the capitalist system. Bouygues, Eiffage and other big corporations share the spoils.
Let's not forget the water corporations -- Veolia, Suez and La Lyonnaise des Eaux -- that manage water supply networks in most cities. They have practically no competition, this allows them to rack in excess profits by ripping off the people. Keeping water management to public utilities would be far less costly, for both the users and the cities. But this is about gifts to big corporations, made by small time community leaders sitting in city councils or by big time servants of capitalism sitting in ministries. Capital grabs public services thanks to the ties (legal or illegal) between politicians and corporations.
This is also true outside the national boundaries. Vinci is building a highway in Russia, despite people protesting against it in that area. As in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, the company can count on the police department to crack down on the protestors.
Similarly, Veolia operates in 77 countries and uses the cops of these countries to stifle local revolts against the exploitive rates it charges. By giving pieces of public services to corporations and giving them subsidies, states transfer a large amount of wealth from the hands of the people to the pockets of the stockholders that own these companies.

Billions for a few,
Layoffs, job cuts and pension cuts for most

To justify these gifts, politicians use one single word: jobs. But the Ayraultport will not provide more jobs than the current airport in Nantes. And numerous companies that receive state subsidies and make tons of profits off public services are laying off massively. Veolia announced 1,500 job cuts in France; the PSA Aulnay workers get tear gas while they strike against the closure of their factory, while the state provides 7 billion Euros to the bosses that fire them.
Ayrault dared say that austerity was "a propaganda invention". But for the nurses and healthcare assistants who were demonstrating in Paris on Sunday, austerity has the bitter taste of job cuts, bed closures and the closure of local hospitals.

On the one side, billions in dirty contracts, subsidies and tax cuts; on the other side, job cuts, destruction of public services and a new attack on pensions is looming. It all fits together. We will have to come all together to fight back.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty If they want a fight...

Message  alexi Lun 3 Juin - 18:54

May 20, 2013

If they want a fight...

Last Thursday, Hollande spoke on TV to promise there would be an "offensive." It quickly became clear that he would be aiming not at layoffs and speculators, but at our pensions.

The Labor Ministry keeps stating that "all options are on the table." Unfortunately, all those options are strikingly similar to the demands of... the bosses' union. "Nothing is decided," sure, but the Medef is at the wheel, and the bosses are not going to steer toward giving workers a fair share, they're moving forward to take any piece of our social protections they can get their hands on.

Hollande shamelessly repeats Sarkozy's motto "Work more…" He personalized it, by removing "to earn more." Hollande's mission is to tell the "truth" to workers, that is, since the population is getting older, retirement age should go up. A big fat lie, conveniently forgetting that managers enjoy their old days a lot more than workers, and the gap is getting wider. Nowadays, we can produce goods with half the work as twenty years ago. If we do the math, it appears that we can fund retirement benefits for twice as long!

Pensions, jobs, wages… it's all related.
Hollande uses the pension funds deficits to attack the working class. Those deficits are real. What is also true is that mass layoffs and frozen wages are the main causes for these deficits. Work more? Part-time supermarket cashiers would love to work full time and get a real salary. As for the 25% of unemployed young (18-25) adults, they would be happy with any work. Will retirement funds be replenished if the amount of time one has to contribute before getting full benefits is increased to 43 years? We shall see. But, more likely, delaying retirement will prevent many people, young and not so young, to find a job!

What really needs to be done is to share the work between all. This should start with banning layoffs and hiring in all the workplaces where job cuts have led to speedups and unbearable workload. Also dearly needed are a monthly wage increase of 300 euros for all -- in the public sector wages have been frozen for three years, meaning they go down compared to the cost of living -- and a minimum wage of 1,500 euros after tax.

Take the money where it is
Is that demagoguery? Are these demands impossible to satisfy during an economic crisis? One look at shareholders' general meetings is enough to see that there is plenty of money around. PSA keeps complaining about weak car sales, but at the same time spends 350 millions in stock exchange transactions to increase the value of its stock. It's a way to make the stockholders happy, more discretely than giving dividends. And what about Vinci's CEO who just gave himself a 30% raise while at the same time he uses Portuguese workers through subcontractors in France, that he pays 650 euros monthly, the same wage they would earn in their country…

So there is plenty of money, in the bosses' pockets. It is high time to organize ourselves and go get that money.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Pensions: the offensive started

Message  alexi Lun 3 Juin - 18:55

May 27, 2013

Pensions: the offensive started

Hollande announced it in his latest press conference and his Prime Minister confirmed it: the government will wage a new attack against retirement benefits, with a decrease in pensions and an increase in contribution time up to 44 years.

Before the government presents a draft law in October, there will be a period of "consultation" with the unions that will be kicked off with a "social conference" at the end of June to last all summer.

All the union confederations have announced they would participate, the CFDT even stated it would accept the increase in contribution time!

Any time spent in private rooms to negotiate more concessions is wasted, instead we need to prepare for the global fight back necessary to repel this major attack.

Pension funds need to be filled? There is an easy fix, increase all wages by 300 euros monthly and ban layoffs! But we won't be able to convince the bosses and the government to concede these necessary measures around a discussion table.

The way of the government left is to kowtow to the bosses, make empty promises to the unions, and use big guns against workers. That's what they call social dialog.

There is only one thing missing in that picture: our response.

The pillage of Niger by Areva and the terrorism of France-dominated Africa

Last Thursday, two attacks struck Niger at the same time. One hit a uranium mine operated by French nuclear industry corporation Areva and injured some Nigerian workers; the other one hit a Nigerian military base working for the French government. The djihadist organization that claimed these attacks said they were retaliating against the war waged in Mali by French troops and armies from several African states including Niger.

Hollande's government had claimed that this war "against terrorism" would be quick and clean. Clean? How many civilians got killed by bullets or bombs? How many dead among the armies of Tchad and Mali, which supply canon fodder for the French army? A short war? Like in Afghanistan, where the war has been going on for 11 years? Where the talibans are back and gaining influence thanks to the unpopularity of the military occupation by the US and their allies.

Far from protecting the population from Islamist groups' violent acts, the French war in Mali spurs racism and rivalries. The regular Malian army, revengeful, has tortured and killed many Arab and Tuareg civilians in North Mali. Even in the South, in the heart of Bamako, fights erupted last February between rival troops, each affiliated to an ex general-president of Mali. In the middle of all these armed conflicts, how many young people will join the jihadists?

The French intervention has nothing to do with freeing people. The goal is to maintain and increase the exploitation of underground resources in Sahel by French corporations. Particularly in Niger, where Areva pillages uranium deposits, over-exploiting Nigerian workers (who went on strike in 2012), polluting the environment, chasing peasants out of their land, leaving the population of one of the poorest countries in complete poverty.

The truth is, French imperialism rules this area by playing one local dictator against another, for the benefit of its large corporations.

The rivalries between communities and between local dictators, stirred by France, can only have tragic outcomes. There is no other solution for the people and the workers than to get to the root of the problem: put an end, on both sides of the Mediterranean see, to the dictatorship and the terrorism of capital, starting with French capitalism.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty A Turkish spring!

Message  alexi Mar 11 Juin - 17:14

June 3, 2013

A Turkish spring !

After the Arab springs in Tunis and Cairo, after social unrest in Greece and Spain, anger is now bursting in Turkey, the country whose cheap labor cost has made it a favorite with corporations such as Renault, Bosch, and Siemens. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have occupied Taksim Square in downtown Istanbul since May 31st. They express a general discontent with the government and the social situation.

Repression from the Turkish police came quickly, injuring over 1,000 demonstrators. This did not weaken the mobilization, which quickly propagated to the whole country, forcing the police to stand back temporarily. Is a Turkish spring being born in Istambul?

It all started with the Istanbul city council (affiliated to the AKP, the so-called "moderate islamic" conservative party of Prime Minister Erdogan) decision to destroy a downtown park to build a shopping center. Against this decision, a few hundred people have camped in the park to prevent the bulldozing. On May 31st, an attempt to violently dislodge them triggered a massive mobilization. Protesters then brought up all kinds of demands. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. A camel that had been growing weaker and weaker.

Numerous strikes in the last few months

While Turkey has been presented as a model country with a booming economy, there are, like everywhere else, explosive social problems. Minimum wage is 410 euros monthly and while the official working time is 45 hours per week it can reach 60 hours or more in practice. In this context, and with the bourgeoisie arrogantly displaying its wealth, many strikes have taken place in the last few months. Often, for the right to form a union, in a country where most bosses make sure they cannot operate. Another cause of people's discontent is inflation, which reached 40% for gas last year. Wage increases are all the more necessary. Last November 1,500 workers went on strike at Renault Bursa to protest against the ridiculous wage increase granted by the company and accepted behind their backs by the union. Strike for wage increases have multiplied recently, in the textile industry, metalworking industry (Bosch…) and even at Turkish Airlines.

Against these social protests, the AKP government is using the baton. After arresting 126 union militants last February, the government prohibited the May 1st demonstration in Istanbul. That day, for fear of a major assembly of angry people, 22,000 police officers were deployed to prevent any gathering.

Today, these police measures cannot contain the rising popular anger anymore. Mass demonstrations have gone through the streets of about 50 cities. The concerns of the protestors go well beyond the park; they include the high cost of living, rents, wages, and the overthrow of the authoritarian regime.

Will this Turkish spring be followed by a fruitful summer? In any case it has surprised not only the Turkish government, but also the governments of the area and of the major powers.

The Turkish working class is numerous and has the experience of many heroic fights. If it spearheaded a broad social mobilization, it would give hope to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and would inspire us with a real fight against the Turkish bosses who are also our bosses. We are all in this together.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Welcome to the Turkish spring !

Message  alexi Lun 17 Juin - 22:39


June 10, 2013


Welcome to the Turkish spring !


On May 31st, anger erupted in Istanbul: tens of thousands of protestors occupied Taksim square and faced the police.


The spark that triggered this social explosion was a camp of people against a real estate project that was to destroy a park next to the Taksim square. Outrage at police repression against the protesters brought the people of that neighborhood to join the protesters. Within 24 hours, mass demonstrations took place within the whole country. Demonstrators demand the resignation of the so-called "moderate" islamic government. The government has been boasting about the miracle economic growth, but this miracle results from the growing exploitation of Turkish workers. All kinds of issues are brought up in the protests, people are sick and tired of religious and moral pressure and of police brutality; they ask for secularism, moral freedom, abortion rights, etc.


Back on May 1st, Police units had been deployed to prevent the May Day union demonstration to reach the Taksim square. The government was afraid that a meeting of tens of thousands of workers with the opponents to the real estate project could become explosive. Today this could very well happen, the other way around, but on a bigger scale. Starting from Taksim square, protests have become widespread.


The Turkish working class has been involved in many strikes in the last few months. It was not represented in the recent demonstrations, in terms of its goals, although some workers participated. The working class could very well use to its advantage this climate of widespread protests and enter the political arena, putting forth its political (the right to organize) and economic (jobs, wages, etc.) demands. In that case it might not be content with just a change of head of state.



After the assassination of Clement, a young militant

Fight the far right and its views


Clement, 18 year old, antifascist and student union militant, was murdered on June 5th, beaten to death by a group of right-wing thugs.


For quite some time some small right-wing groups, more or less close to Marine le Pen or at least her ideas, are flexing their muscles and attacking everything they don't like. Recently, they have raised the ante and been provocative during the reactionary right demonstrations against gay marriage. They have also assaulted homosexual couples in the streets of Nice and Paris. All this, on top of their numerous racist attacks against immigrants.


These groups are still very small, far from being capable to attack the labor movement or become strike breakers. But in today's crisis situation, that's what they aspire to. They wish to become useful to the bosses and climb up the political ladder. Don't hold your breath for Manuel Valls, Minister of the Interior and as so the head of police, to get rid of them. Valls, multiplying the expulsions of immigrant workers, encourages the prejudices that right-wing ideas feed on. Don't count on Hollande and the rest of his government either, they are carrying out the same policies as Sarkozy against the poor or waging war in Africa to help big corporations, all this facilitates the demagogy of the National Front and its followers.


To eliminate the extreme-right gangrene, to stop its propaganda made up of prejudices, opposing people in the name of country or race, workers will have to show their force. French and immigrant workers together, through their fights and their class solidarity, can give hope to young people and end the crisis created by capitalism.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty World series of social protest

Message  alexi Mar 2 Juil - 19:38

June 24, 2013

World series of social protest:
here comes Brazil!

"A human ocean, an outpour of signs and banners" said the press, counting one million people marching all over Brazil, including 300,000 in Rio de Janeiro.
Police repression rained down on the protesters with batons, tear gas and plastic bullets, causing hundreds of injuries.

The movement started almost two weeks ago to protest the increase in transportation fares, while Brazil is spending huge amounts to organize the soccer Fifa cup and another 15 billion dollars for the 2014 world cup. While minimum wage is 240 euros monthly and an average San Paolo worker makes about 500 euros, the monthly transportation cost of 80 euros is prohibitive. Romario, an ex- pro soccer player who won the world cup in 1994 with Brazil, now a federal representative, candidly said that Fifa (which got a tax exemption from the government in April 2010) "is setting up a show, spends not even one cent and gets all the profits." Rivaldo, world champion in 2002, talked about " the shame of spending so much money for the world cup while hospitals and schools are in a bad shape." The protesters got the fare increase cancelled, but a student explains why the movement still goes on: "we cannot stop here. Everyone knows that our demands go well beyond the increase in transportation costs."

The "left-wing" government orders major public works that enrich the wealthy, through kickbacks, and for the poor only has expropriations, evictions, tax increases. Despite the (bogus) promises made by President Dilma Rousseff on Saturday, the movement remains strong: tens of thousands of demonstrators in over 100 cities. Three quarters of the population support the movement and there are talks of a general strike on July 1st. That's enough to panic the government and its capitalist friends. And not just in Brazil!

Antisocial conference in France:
"We won't get what we need at roundtable discussions !"

"Everyone is bored, this is taking forever" said Jean-Claude Mailly, general secretary of the union Force Ouvriere (Workers Force), last week, about the "social conference" that gathered government, bosses and union confederations. Still, he and the other union leaders did not walk out of this overblown event that will bring nothing good to workers…

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to hold forth in private rooms, all the invited union leaders commented on the supposed positive aspects of "social dialog" put forth by the government!

In the end, one side blew hot air while the other side confirmed its plans of a new attack on pensions. And a new "consultation" is planned for the summer, that the Prime Minister hopes will be "dense, rich and sincere"!

Another way to keep us waiting, even though they already plan to increase contribution time before getting full pension benefits. According to Francois Hollande, this is the "most equitable" measure. But everyone knows this measure would cause a general decrease in pensions, and the government also considers unlinking pension increases from inflation, as has already been done for supplementary pensions. An "equitable" measure? This simply means to take from current and future retired people to cover pension funds whose deficits are caused by mass unemployment and low wages! And that's not even enough to make the Medef happy, the bosses' union still asks for an increase in the pension eligibility age.

The hell with sitting at roundtables across bosses and government! Workers will get respect by fighting, all together.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty The Egyptian revolution is still alive

Message  alexi Mer 10 Juil - 19:38

July 1st, 2013

The Egyptian revolution is still alive

On Sunday June 31st, the expected tidal wave swept across Egypt. There were more than half a million pro-testers on Tahrir square in Cairo, hundreds of thousands in Alexandria, the country's second largest city, in Mahalla, the textile industry city where major strikes have occurred in the last few years, in Port Said, etc.
Opponents to President Morsi have asked for his resignation and for a stop to the authoritarian policies of the Muslim Brothers, just like they asked for Mubarak's departure two and a half years ago. Clashes with the re-gime's henchmen, who were called in to stage a counter-demonstration, resulted in six deaths, on top of the nine deaths from last week's protests in several cities. That didn't prevent the regime's opponents to call for more demonstration if Morsi does not resign in the next few days.

Success of the "rebellion"
In the last two months, a movement called Tamarrud ("rebellion") has gathered millions of signatures against the government policies. This success followed the great demonstrations of December 2012 against the new anti-democratic constitution drafted by the Morsi government.
The Egyptian revolution that overthrew Mubarak in 2011 is really not going away, despite much pressure from Egypt's wealthiest and from the great powers led by the US. They tried every trick in the book to make the pro-tests stop. First, the army was in charge for one year, to ensure a so-called "democratic transition", then they gave Morsi their support, he was presented as a "moderate islamist" and got elected in June 2012. In the back-ground, the army remained the real power in the country.
Nothing has changed for the poor in the last two and a half years, except for the worse: a new law that prohibits strikes, a constitution that promotes the arbitrary use of power by the religious bodies, amnesty for the heads of Mubarak's dictatorship, military trials of demonstrators, numerous people put in jail and even a few condemned to the death penalty, which had provoked a new wave of demonstrations.
The Muslim Brothers' government tried hard to give positions only to its supporters or allies. This sparked many protests. It even named an old jihadist leader as governor of the Louxor province, the same jihadist who was responsible for many terror attacks in that area. The population's anger forced his resignation.

Between IMF dictates and the army's schemes
At the same time, unemployment has raised. Prices have jumped 40 % in one year. The great powers are to blame. The IMF just promised a 4.8 billion dollar aid package to Egypt, but only on the condition that all social spendings be reduced -- in a country where all the big international corporations, from metallurgy to textile, are doing great business.
Just one year after Morsi got elected, another scheme is already on the cards: the army getting full administra-tive power, supposedly to act as arbiter between Morsi's supporters and opponents, above all to maintain order against demonstrators and strikers, as it did when it had full power between February 2011 and June 2012.
But today the street is making its voice heard, expressing it has had enough of unemployment, power outages, water shortages, gas shortages, that it is disgusted by all the arrests, disrespect of women, lawsuits against jour-nalists that are seen as too independent.
So a second revolution is truly needed, a political but this time also a social revolution. Not just to kick out the dictator of the hour, but also the stop poverty and kick out the bosses who cause and profit from it.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty The Egyptian revolution and it enemies

Message  alexi Mer 24 Juil - 9:23

July 8, 2013

The Egyptian revolution and it enemies

After "Mubarak get lost" we heard "Morsi get lost." 22 million Egyptians had signed the anti-Morsi petition of the "Tamarod" (Rebellion) movement, and millions took to the streets day after day during long, determined demonstrations, despite violent attacks by Morsi supporters. Not just on Tahrir Square in Cairo, but throughout the country. After the massive mobilization of June 30th, the Egyptian army decided to remove Morsi and take direct control of the government, to prevent the revolutionary wave from growing further. Was it a military coup, as Morsi supporters call it? That's a figure of speech, since the army has been in control all along.

The army had previously confiscated the revolution after ousting general Mubarak in 2011. The army did set the procedures for the elections and made a pact with the Muslim Brothers of Morsi who got elected president in June 2012. That way the army remained in power without being in the spotlight… and without being the tar-get of criticisms. But this scheme to rein in the population only lasted one year.

That's because the Egyptian population still leaves in misery and the situation is getting worse: shortages of gas and heating oil, shortage of bread and milk for children, constant power outages, prices going through the roof. The Muslim Brothers had promised a better life for the poorest: once in control of the government they proved as corrupt as their predecessors. So social protests have been going on for months, with thousands of demons-trations and strikes in many areas of the country and in all branches of industry, from railroad workers to Suez Canal dockers to textile workers in al-Mahallah as well as many others.

The army hopes to head off the revolutionary wave. It wishes to put a new front to its political regime, looking for the participation and support from the so-called democratic parties and also from the salafist Al Nour party, even though this one just stepped out from the negotiations. The army does not hesitate to bloodily suppress its previous partner, the Muslim Brothers. And when the army and the Muslim Brother settle their score, this could be on the back of the whole population.

Obviously, the egyptian people has nothing good to expect from the army, from the generals who built huge fortunes on their back. The army is a big landowner and its chiefs own large companies. And let's not forget that headquarter staff receives political and financial support from the US government, since it is an ally in the Middle East, helping to maintain an unjust economic and social order.

Many anti-Morsi protesters remember that, many times during this revolution, both the police and the army have shot demonstrators, tortured and killed regime opponents. Many opponents have continued to demonstrate on Tahrir Square because they distrust the military.

The need for a revolutionary workers party
The bourgeoisie and its political representatives -- military, islamist or democrat -- fear the strength of a popu-lation that stays mobilized and whose political consciousness grows quickly. But the population certainly lacks a voice, a party that's clearly on the side of the working population, the youth, workers, peasants and the poorest. A revolutionary workers' party that would give a different political perspective than the so-called "democracy" of the bourgeoisie, supported by the army or reactionary religious parties.

For the revolutionary mobilization in Egypt to effect real change, a policy that represents the social and political demands of workers must be expressed. The working class shouldn't just oppose the power of dictators and demagogues, military or islamist, but should take charge of its own future by exerting political and economic power. That is the only possible way toward democracy. And the only way to ensure the success of a revolu-tion.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty September 10th, a new starting point for all of us

Message  alexi Lun 9 Sep - 18:36

September 2, 2013

September 10th, a new starting point for all of us, together !

After many weeks of talks, the government, probably anxious about our reaction, unveiled its pension reform.
Prime Minister Ayrault claims the reform does not change the legal retirement age. But the number of years of work required to get full pension will increase to 43. It will thus be practically impossible to retire with full benefits at 62.
We are also being told – one more time – that we have to work more because life expectancy has increased. But if the capitalist economy was not so inefficient, if it did not create millions of unemployed, pension funds would be fully financed. The main cause of pension fund deficit is unemployment.
Finally, they tell us that our contributions must increase and that it is in our best interest. But the government is using a double standard: it’s a lose-lose situation for us, but the bosses will get more than they lose! The increase in their retirement contributions will be more than compensated by a decrease in other social contributions (such as for child benefits) and in taxes. The Finance Minister Moscovici was warmly applauded after his talk at the bosses’ summer university! And us, workers, should pay in every possible way? Thanks, but no thanks!
The unions CGT, FO, Solidaires and FSU are calling for a day of action on September 10th. One day will not be enough to repeal the dirty measures this so-called left-wing government is trying to impose. But we must show our anger. And if this day is a success, it may lead to other such days.

Hollande, the leader of the warmongers ?
After Great Britain got out and Obama asked for his congress’ approval, Hollande, who was getting ready to send his Rafale fighter jets, had to calm down a bit. He was too quick on the draw.
But the plan for a joint American-French military operation is still afloat. Another military operation? The war in Afghanistan, started in 2001, still goes on. The 2003 Iraq war left the country facing terror attacks and clan warfare. The military operation in Libya, that made Sarkozy so proud and got the support of Hollande and Fabius (the current Foreign Affairs Minister), left a country in ruins and in the grip of military and religious clans that are as authoritarian as Gadhafi.
The “strikes” put forward by Hollande and Obama do not mean going to war, or so they tell us. But how much destruction will they cause, how many will die under the bombs? They want to give Assad a “lesson”… but what price in blood will the Syrian people have to pay?
When the great powers intervene militarily, it is not to free the people. Bachar Al-Assad certainly is a bloody dictator. No more, no less than were Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, these two good friends of France, before they got kicked out by their people. Bachar Al–Assad has also been a good friend of France, he was welcomed by Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. When he started the bloody repression against the rebellion that threatened him, the great occidental powers let him do it. What now worries those great powers after a repression that killed 100,000 people is not the use of chemical weapons, which would violate the “international laws” defining clean war. What worries them is that Al-Assad has not been able to restore order, that the country and the region have become unstable. That includes Egypt, were the alliance between the army Chiefs of Staff and the Muslim Brothers was broken. The US had pushed for this alliance in the hope of better controlling the Egyptian people, a people that still mobilizes and goes on strike two and a half year after its revolution.
Hollande said it clearly: the goal is not to overthrow Al-Assad. They only want to put pressure on him to make him accept a deal with some of the self-proclaimed leaders of the rebellion, the chiefs of the “interim government” backed by western powers, or the leaders of some fundamentalist Islamic groups. Such reconciliation of the leaders would allow them to keep the people under control with a heavy hand like before, to make the people accept their misery.
This is what Hollande and Obama intend to do by adding bombings to the war that has devastated Syria for two years.
This is a military operation against the people of the Middle East and, in a way, against us in France.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Pension reform, low wages, unemployment: enough is

Message  alexi Jeu 19 Sep - 18:40

September 8, 2013

Pension reform, low wages, unemployment: enough is enough !

The new pension reform devised by Ayrault’s government is on its way, and it is following in the footsteps of the previous reforms. Ayrault claims the reform does not change the legal retirement age. But the number of years of work required to get full pension will increase more and more, up to 43 for those born after 1973. It will thus be practically impossible to retire with full benefits before 62. People will have to work past that age, or retire with a big cut in benefits… or both! That is, if we let them do it.

Let the workers pay, even the retired ones !
They tell us that our premiums must increase and that it is in our best interest. That the costs would be divided equally between workers and bosses. Absolute rubbish. The increase in the bosses’ retirement contributions will be compensated by a decrease in contributions for child benefits or in taxes. They will get back on one side what they loose from the other. The government promised them “no increase in labor costs.” That’s why Finance Minister Moscovici was so warmly applauded at the bosses’ summer university!
Since the government is about to make new gifts to the bosses, it must get the money from somewhere! By increasing social contributions, sales tax or another tax, or by cutting funding to public services? The government is exploring ideas, but certainly the aim is to take from the workers’ pockets.
The government even intends to steal money from retirees. The most isolated and the weakest of all people! By using a dirty little trick: delay from April to October the cost of living increase in pensions, so it will gain six months. That means a few tens of euros per retiree saved each year. Not a lot? But the government estimates this will save 1.7 billion euros by 2020. Only those getting the minimum old-age pension will be spared, but barely! Everyone else, even those with very low income, will see prices increase while their pension falls back…

They talk about growth and jobs…
Hollande and Ayrault are truly governing for the bosses. This summer, they pat themselves in the back because economic growth is back. Are wages and standard of living increasing? No, only the profits of the largest companies have been growing! From the workers’ point of view, prices and rents are going up much faster than wages. And now the bosses are rushing to use the dirty law based on the “competitiveness agreements”, passed by the Ayrault government, to get free overtime from workers or outright wage decreases.

… but they only raise unemployment
Unemployment also is growing, fed by the waves of layoffs that are still going on. And while young workers cannot find a decent job, the older ones are supposed to work for 43 years!
But the primary cause of the deficit in pension funds is unemployment. It means that millions of workers cannot contribute to the funds. A big, gaping hole that keeps getting deeper.
It is urgent to stop our standard of living from being degraded in so many ways. It is urgent to end unemployment by banning layoffs and sharing work among all, without loss of wage of course. It is urgent to let our growing anger finally explode so the workers’ voice can be heard. The current atmosphere is still calm, just like before a big storm.
The unions CGT, FO, Solidaires and FSU are calling for a day of action on September 10th. The CFDT does not join in; perhaps they are satisfied by the government’s reform! We must be as many as possible participating in the strikes and demonstrations, and we must keep in mind that one day will not be enough to repeal the dirty measures the bosses and their government are trying to impose !


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty They demand more taxes? Let’s impose our demands !

Message  alexi Jeu 26 Sep - 19:21

September 16, 2013

They demand more taxes? Let’s impose our demands !
This is the time when we receive our tax documents and realize that even though our wages still haven’t gone up, our taxes are increasing by 100-200 euros or even more. To help us swallow this bitter pill, Hollande announced Sunday evening on TV that this would be the end of it. Well, maybe not.
He admits he increased the income tax of households by 30 billion euros, on top of the 30 billion increase already set up under Sarkozy. He says it’s not going to happen again soon, but he’s not really going to give us a break. For instance, the new pension reform will require extra premiums and taxes from workers and retirees. In addition, sales tax will increase from 19.6 to 20 % on January 1st, 2014. That’s an extra six billion euros that will be taken mostly from workers pockets. But, claims Hollande, things could have been worse, since Sarkozy was planning to increase sales tax to 21.2 %!

Attacks against workers…
While wages and pensions cannot keep up with inflation, the minimum taxable income did not increase. This means that 940,000 low income households will now have to pay income tax and local residence tax.
In addition, dependents allowance is decreased, tax breaks for school fees are scrapped, etc.
The only one of Sarkozy’s measures that Hollande did reverse regards making overtime hours tax-free. This reversal increases taxes on the workers who were using overtime to make ends meet. Of course, workers should have no regret for tax-free overtime: its goal was to help the bosses work us more rather than hire more and increase wages.

…Tax giveaways to the bosses
The attitude of the government toward the bosses is the exact opposite. The tax on corporate profits could be decreased by 30-33 %. Large companies are already not paying all of this tax. The largest, publicly traded companies pay, on average, just 8 % of the tax on corporate profits, thanks to perfectly legal “tax optimization” techniques. Not to mention Orange, which, as we learned recently, has paid no corporate tax at all between 2000 and 2010! For these companies, even “tax evasion” does not mean tax fraud: they can legally deposit their profits wherever they wish to avoid paying taxes.

Public deficits: a false pretext
The government uses public deficit to justify taking from the workers pockets. But the additional taxes and fees will not be used to finance hospitals, pension funds, social security, social assistance, or to hire teachers to lower the outrageous number of kids per classroom. It is quite the opposite: a 15 billion cut in public spending is expected; about half of it will target social welfare. A shocking preview of what is to come was just seen in Clermont-Ferrand where 352 homeless people, including 150 children, were tossed out on the street with no warning when the association that paid for their housing lost its public funding.

What is the real purpose of the tax increases?
The increase in sales tax will compensate partly for the 20 billion euros in “tax breaks for jobs and competitiveness” handed to the bosses. These 20 billions are on top of what the bosses will gain with the wage freeze and job cuts that underlie the “competitiveness” that Hollande wants to promote by imposing more sacrifices to workers.

Against these attacks to our standard of living, we must fight back and impose our demands !


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty It's our turn to make demands

Message  alexi Mer 2 Oct - 22:36

September 23, 2013

It's our turn to make demands

Everyone received their tax documents and realized that their taxes have increased by 100-200 euros. In addition, between 1.2 and 1.6 million low income households will now have to pay taxes because the government froze the minimum taxable income and decreased dependents allowance for single adults with a child.

The government takes from the workers’ pockets…
With the increase in sales tax coming in January – the most unequal tax – the original lyrics of “The Internationale” are once again true: Taxes bleed the poor ! On the other hand taxes can be very mild for the rich and the big corporations. Thanks to perfectly legal “tax optimization” techniques, they pay peanuts. Add fiscal fraud of at least 60 billion euros to the equation and the situation is perfectly clear: we, the workers, should not be intimidated into paying for the so-called public deficits.

…to fill the bosses’
The government can say with a straight face that it will stop increasing taxes in the coming months. That’s because they alternated tax increases – aimed mostly at the working class – and generous tax breaks – mostly for the bosses. The net tax increase is only 0.5 % of GDP.
The tax breaks for the bosses, such as the job-competitiveness tax credit (11 billion expected cost) come with some conditions, but only on paper.
During his visit to the Medef (bosses union) summer university, Moscovici, the Finance Minister, had assured the bosses that tax inspectors would be very lenient if they promised to create jobs.

We have to react
PSA workers have already found out the value of the government’s wishes that the bosses create jobs. Last week, thousands stopped work at different worksites to protest against the competitiveness agreements (pompously called New Social Contract) put forth by the company. The agreements aim to end the back to school bonus, the seniority bonus, the premium pay for night hours, overtime and Saturdays, as workers are pushed to work more Saturdays; they include a wage freeze until 2016, a decrease of the partial unemployment allowance, forced transfer between worksites and even temporary personnel loan to anywhere in the country.
It was quite logical that the workers’ anger would erupt all over the country. This started on September 10th, when work stopped in many locations such as Valenciennes, Sochaux, Vesoul, Poissy and Mulhouse. On September 18th, 2,500 employees stopped work in all the worksites following call from the CGT. 600 stopped work in Sochaux, 600 in Vesouls (not counting the night shift workers at these two locations), 470 in Poissy… And others in Mulhouse, Tremery, Valenciennes, Saint-Ouen, Aulnay etc.

All together
This mobilization has not yet forced PSA management to abandon its plans. But the potential for a global reaction should serve as an example for all workers in the country to follow.
Against the bosses who can always count on the government to help play dirty tricks on us, we will have to use our only weapons: strikes and demonstrations.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Barbed wire as a welcome

Message  alexi Mer 16 Oct - 19:13

October 7, 2013

Barbed wire as a welcome

Over 300 Somali and Eritrean people sank in the waters off Lampedusa, on the edge of Europe. The 500 million-strong European Union is using ultra-modern methods to keep away those who flee misery, war and dictatorships. 17,000 Roma people are chased from slum to slum within France and its 65 million inhabitants. 150 Syrian people fleeing the Assad regime are hunted down in Calais (northern France). And so many get hurt on the barbed wire set up by the imperialist fortresses. These imperialist powers have created the wealth of their corporations by helping them pillage other continents and exploit the previous generations of immigrants.

France, a welcoming land ?

Of course France is a welcoming land for all those in the world who seek peace. Take for instance Rifaat el-Assad, the uncle of the current Syrian dictator. He owns an eight-story house near the Champs Elysees, a few apartments in other wealthy neighborhoods of Paris and more houses… He was on TV recently, and others like him too. There is absolutely no visa problem for the royal families of the Arab Gulf states, the Russian oligarchs, the American billionaires, the African dictators and all the friends of corporate France. Doors are always open to these people; red carpets are always ready to be rolled out! For instance, Hollande was recently welcoming the president of Mozambique in Cherbourg. This dictator bought six military ships, for millions of euros. A great success for the French arm dealers… but more weigh on the people of Mozambique, a devastated country, from which the most despaired will try to go away, risking their lives in the process.

The poorest are hunted down
For the people trying to escape from torture or misery, Europe, France included, is far from a safe haven. Since 1988, 20,000 people have died trying to reach European coasts. Most often with no media coverage. The disaster in Lampedusa is only the last episode.
This time, our political leaders are shedding a few crocodile tears. But they are the ones responsible for these deaths. They setup a system of border surveillance with sea and air patrols, even satellites, that would make any army proud. This manhunt forces immigrants to take more and more risks. Our political leaders crafted scandalous laws, with tragic consequences. In the last few years, some Italian fishermen who helped ships in trouble have been prosecuted for “assisting clandestine immigration”!
These odious and hypocrite laws allow the bosses to overexploit the survivors by making them “illegals”.

Humanitarian missions, using baton and deportation
Hollande wanted to help with the “humanitarian” situation in Syria. With bombings? There are over two million Syrian refugees, including 760,000 in Lebanon (a country of 4.5 million inhabitants) and almost as much in Jordan (6 million). Only 700 were admitted in France in 2013. The only humanitarian help from Hollande was to send the police against a few of them in Calais.
Despite being European citizens, the Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria are the number one scapegoats of our demagogue politicians. Valls, the current Interior Minister, has gone even further than Guean, his conservative predecessor, and the ultra-right Le Pen. Not just in talk, and with Hollande’s tacit approval. There are only 17,000 Roma in France, that’s a big deal? No kidding? One million of “blackfoot” (the descendants of French settlers in Algeria) returned to France in 1962, they were easily integrated in less than two years…
“We cannot welcome all the misery in the world”, they keep repeating to us, on all occasions, but they welcome all the rich predators who come… The capitalists are much better at creating, not welcoming, misery, everywhere in the world.
Make no mistake: the real borders are the class borders, which separate the exploiters and the exploited.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Neither the National front, nor the Republican fro

Message  alexi Mer 23 Oct - 19:01

Neither the National front, nor the Republican front: workers must build a fighting front

In Brignoles, a city in the south of France, the National Front (the far right party led by Le Pen) won the local elections with 53.9 % of the votes after the run-off. The numbers do not emphasize a rapid rise of the National Front as much as they show a duel strictly between right wing parties. The Socialist party participated in the duel in the name of the so-called “Republican front.” In other words, a “republican solidarity” with the conservatives who ask the government to crush workers even more than it currently does. As if the socialist government had not bent over enough for the bosses.

Certainly, there are no longer any difference between the left government and the right. But those who think they might just “try” the far right are entirely mistaken. The far right would pursue a policy just as bad and radical against the workers.

On the other side, there is a radical policy to pursue against the bourgeois and the bosses who keep laying off workers to increase their dividends. The Le Pen family never speaks of this. But it is absolutely necessary that workers start using their political power, so they can impose their demands instead of the shareholders’. This is not utopia. We only have to coordinate, to centralize our fights that are still spread out. Better make the capitalists fear for their house than take it on the electoral silverware.

“All the same…” as the National front?

In the meantime, we can observe a sad political comedy: the conservative and socialist leaders are competing to appear as strong as the National Front in its anti-poor and anti-immigrants stance. Valls (Interior Minister, socialist), Copé and Fillon (conservatives), and Le Pen are repeating the same racist garbage.

For now, the government is leading the toughest war against immigrants. Eight days after the 300 Lampedusa deaths – for which Francois Hollande made no public statement – 33 people, many of them from Syria, lost their life in the waters off Malta. They do their best to turn back immigrants who flee from misery, war, human rights abuse. But they never turn back rich uncles of dictators, friends or ex-friends of France, like Bachar-el-Assad’s uncle who owns much real estate in Paris.

Everywhere he goes, Valls brags about having expelled as many “illegal” immigrants than Sarkozy. He boasts that the assistance to return home for European residents has decreased from 300 to 50 euros. For those expelled from Europe, the amount was cut by three quarters. They use this anti-immigrant war as an electoral weapon against the National Front, but it’s a war the National Front would gladly pursue if it were leading the government.

The whole point of this racist demagogy is to use the guy next door, or the one with less money, as a scapegoat, instead of collectively aiming at the capitalist exploiters who cut our jobs.

In the meantime, the bosses feel they have complete freedom to layoff workers, close plants, cut jobs, enforce their competitiveness agreements. This happens at PSA, Alcatel-Lucent, Heuliez and at the GAD slaughterhouses, where 889 jobs out of 1,700 will be cut, the plant closed, and where it is clear the bosses are acting dirtier than the pigs.

Each time, the workers have reacted, protested, shown their anger. But it is frustrating to see the local mobilizations taking place one after the other, daily, weekly or monthly, without ever converging. Labor struggles do not have to be so fragmented, though.

The blind can vote for the National front to vent their anger. But if we want to “try” a new policy, we have to work on joining our forces together.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Young people are doing the right thing

Message  alexi Mar 29 Oct - 19:27

October 21, 2013

Young people are doing the right thing

The demonstrations of high school students in Paris and many other cities did a lot of good; they have changed the political atmosphere for the best!
The students protest the deportation of two high school students from immigrant families, Leonarda and Khatchik. In fact, they rebel against all the anti-immigrant and anti-poor politics designed to create scapegoats. The youths show their solidarity. They just burst onto the political scene to speak out against the prejudices that politicians such as Valls, Copé, Guéant or le Pen want the population to believe.
Well done, students; congratulations to our kids. They create a new opening against this government, in no way better than the preceding one, a government that only dreams to serve the bosses while riding on the far right anti-immigrant demagogy to try and divide workers.
The government tried to spread disinformation against the students’ protests. Officials keep repeating that Leonarda’s family hadn’t come directly from Kosovo, but went through Italy. So what? They repeat that immigration laws must be firmly applied – laws that were made even worse under Sarkozy. As if immigrants were responsible for unemployment and not the big shareholders who impose their will on the government.
Since the disinformation was not able to stop the youth movement, Hollande had to pretend to make a concession by allowing Leonarda back to France but… without her family. Even though the police commissioner had justified her deportation “so she would not be separated from her family”! What a bunch of hypocrites.

Lies about immigration
“We cannot welcome all the misery in the world”, they keep repeating to us. Instead, the French government lets smaller, poorer countries deal with the misery in the world. While Jordan and Lebanon are taking in a massive inflow of Syrian refugees, the French state claims it cannot help the 700 Syrian people in Calais. As for the 17,000 Roma people in France, can’t a country with 65 million inhabitants find them a place to live, rather than chase them from slum to slum? The state is less picky about welcoming billionaires from everywhere on the planet…
They also tell us that undocumented immigrants are benefiting from welfare and sink the economy. Quite the opposite! The bosses actually need these immigrants, as cheap labor to be overexploited in trade, food industry, and construction. Undocumented immigrants also bring in two billion euros yearly to the state, in taxes and contributions to social security and pension funds. They do not get anything in return from social security that does not acknowledge them, nor from the state that does not treat them as citizens.
The truth is, the government is trying to make us look away from the real thieves

While Valls and co are going on and on about immigration, the bosses have free rein to layoff people and impose their dirty tricks. This has provoked the workers anger in many places, such as in Brittany after layoffs were announced in slaughterhouses and at Alcatel-Lucent. At the VG Goossens printing company workers do not accept the social plan and are threatening to destroy the printing house. Employees of the Lutecia, the great Parisian hotel, are on strikes for the same reasons.
For now, these individual fights remain uncoordinated. On the other hand, from day one, high school students have made contact across schools, across cities, to join their mobilizations, to defend two of them.
This should inspire us.


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Edito de L'Etincelle en anglais - Page 2 Empty Bursts of anger everywhere: workers need to lead

Message  alexi Mer 27 Nov - 23:51

November 18, 2013

Bursts of anger everywhere: workers need to lead them !

There is no end to the bursts of anger triggered by new taxes. Nor to the movements triggered by this anger: demonstrations of truckers, of horse riding centers, of craftsmen… who will be next?

Another tax increase, the sales tax, the most unfair of all taxes
After the ecotax that’s aimed at the small truckers, instead of the large transportation companies, the government will continue taking from the poorest with the scheduled increase in sales tax.
On January 1st, the sales tax will raise from 19.6 % to 20 % for maximum rate items and from 7 % to 10 % for intermediate rate items as in restaurants, transportation, construction, heating wood, etc. The seven billion euros raised by these taxes will contribute to pay for… the 20 billion “competitiveness” tax breaks to corporations! This increase in the most unfair tax – it takes from what families consume, regardless of their income – will therefore serve to fill the big bosses’ pockets a little more.

Tired of giving more to the bosses who cut jobs !
The bosses are getting richer at the same time they are destroying our jobs. What happens in Brittany happens everywhere in the country. In Brittany, workers at Gad, Tilly-Sabco, Marine Harvest, PSA Rennes are facing job cuts. But layoffs are on the rise everywhere: +12 % over January-September compared to 2012.
In the North, la Redoute employees have demonstrated and are still mobilizing against the planned 700 job cuts. In the Paris area, PSA Aulnay will close for good in a few months, and thousands of job cuts are scheduled over the rest of the company. Not to mention the newly implemented competitiveness agreements that worsen work conditions and decrease real wages, allegedly to save jobs.

Who will harvest the grapes of wrath ?

In Brittany, a lot of people are trying to use the anger expressed in the street for their own interests: bosses, mostly in the agri-food sector, big farming companies, and all kinds of politicians, especially from the far right. But on November 2, in Quimper, the more numerous demonstrators were workers, particularly the agri-food employees that are the most exploited.
Now the question is, who will give a direction to this widespread social discontent? To prevent the bosses or right wing and far right politicians to profit from their anger, the only way is for the workers to organize themselves.

First, to clearly state their demands: ban the layoffs, raise wages, tax the rich.

Then, turn toward and unite with all the other social layers who are not living off our work but like us are suffering from the policy of the bosses and the government: peasants, craftsmen, teachers, etc.
New demonstrations are already planned for this week, la Redoute employees in Paris, then on Saturday workers in Brittany from Morlaix, St-Brieuc and other cities will march in Rennes. More demonstrations will follow in the coming weeks. We have to seize every opportunity to make contacts between different companies and to demonstrate together.
It is time for the movement that started in Brittany to spread out, so all the workers threatened by the economic crisis – i.e. all of us – join together to fight back! To force the bosses and their government to stop the attacks and the layoffs.


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