imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Importance of French Workers’ Struggle to Keep 35 Hour Week Shouldn't be Underestimated

by Richard Mellor Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005 at 10:00 AM
aactivist@igc.org

The real reason for U.S. capitalism's attempt to create anti-French sentiment is the French workers' stand for the 35 hour week at a time when U.S. and global capitalism is trying to normalize going backwards

The meaning of freedom means different things to different people. Cromwell wasn’t championing the cause of freedom for the English peasants and certainly not the Irish ones. Ancient Greece was a democracy, a slave owners’ democracy, and the European’s who fled tyranny in their world, ended freedom for the inhabitants of the lands they colonized.

There is a major struggle going on in France about freedom; freedom to work longer hours or have more leisure time. Here in the U.S, there has been a somewhat successful attempt by U.S. capitalism to promote anti-French sentiment. After September 11th, French wine was poured down the drain, French food has been ridiculed, and the most insulting of all, French Fries were renamed Freedom Fries. Much of this anti-Gallic sentiment has subsided somewhat but U.S. capitalism’s efforts to introduce more freedom to Europe and most especially, France, are gaining momentum; they’re getting more support from their class brethren over there. Reading the debates in the serious bourgeois press about the workweek in France is a lesson in social science that reveals the class nature of society in a clear and precise way. In these publications the capitalist class talk to each other. The intent is not to obscure reality but to clarify it, not to divide the reading audience against itself but to unite them.

Marxism argues that ideas have a material base. In the last analysis it is objective reality that determines consciousness. As Marx explained, “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary it is their social being that determines their consciousness.” This is not to mean that what we think is not affected by other factors. Most workers will argue that the prices of products will certainly rise if wages rise, which is not the case as wages and prices are not organically linked. Most workers use the expression; eight hours pay for eight hours work, an impossible idea in a market economy. These ideas that we express are ideas that the ruling class introduce to society through their institutions, the church, the education system, the media, and the trade union leaders echo them. They do this in the same way that the Kings and Queens and the organized church convinced people that they were rulers by divine right; it was God’s will. They are meant to obscure the real class forces at work in society.

There is a major struggle going on in France between two points of view. The working class in France has a 35-hour workweek and the French workers like it. According to the Financial Times, in a recent poll 77% of respondents said, “they liked their new lifestyles and did not want to work longer hours. Many also believed that by reducing their working hours they are doing their bit for social solidarity.” Those pesky French workers. Social solidarity? What about “our” freedom scream the capitalists in chorus. The problem with the French, the Times points out, is that they “have not worked as hard as the Americans.” This is the reason for the weaker economy. France is suffering a “work deficit”. Sure, says the Times, they’re happier, they’re well educated, productive, even fairly dedicated, and the amount of strike days lost to industrial disputes in France is lower than most industrial countries, but they work 15% fewer hours a year than their American counterparts. The French capitalist class wants to introduce more freedom and allow French workers to work longer hours so they can earn more money.

The French bosses want their workers to be more like the Americans and work longer hours. The 35-hour workweek is destroying the quality of life. One bourgeois economist is appalled, “They are offered more leisure time with no sacrifice on the income side”. In other words, workers are getting freedoms that are normally reserved for capitalists, pay for not working. Reducing working hours with no subsequent loss in pay cuts in to the boss’s income, his profits. In the case of France though, workers themselves are actually paying as the state has provided “fiscal concessions” to companies so that wages didn’t drop when the 35-hour week was introduced. The real problem is not the cost at this point but that the French workers’ insistence on a 35-hour workweek is a problem for U.S. and global capitalism that is intent on normalizing going backwards.



This battle over working hours is the struggle between workers and bosses over surplus value. Working time can be divided in to two periods. Firstly, there is the time spent producing the value of our own subsistence, what it takes to feed ourselves, our kids and remain healthy enough to get up the next morning. Obviously, this is different in different times and locations and is influenced by the class struggle. This is called necessary labor time. But we don’t go home or quit working when we produce the value of our wages. We continue working. In today’s modern economy we may produce the value of our own subsistence in 20 0r 25 hours or even less.

The period that we work above that which produces the value of our own subsistence we can refer to as unnecessary labor time and the value produced in this period is surplus value, it is value that the boss doesn’t pay for and is the source of his profit. Hence the ferocity with which the capitalist resists lowering working hours. It’s the struggle over surplus value. We decrease the unnecessary labor time with no decrease in wages and they lose income. They extend the working day like they want to in France, and they increase the production of surplus value and their profit. But they can’t say this of course because it undermines the argument that you can give a fair day’s work in return for a fair days pay”.

The introduction of the 35-hour week was “no picnic, I can tell you”, says Pierre Moustial CEO of Fournier Pharmaceutical. Pierre supports changes in the 35-hour workweek, “The government aims to let people work more to earn more. I think it is difficult for anyone to be against that goal.” he adds. Pierre is being a bit dishonest here. He knows from experience that the real goal is to work less and earn more; he just doesn’t think that should apply to workers. Those workers that support the right to work longer hours are not doing so because they like working longer hours, we all know that. The employers are using all sorts of ways to make it difficult to survive on the 35–hour week and are attacking other benefits won by the French workers.

The attacks on the French working class in the British media were also severe during some of the trucking and public sector strikes a few years ago. But we should be more like the French not less. Our Union officials should be leading a movement here for reduced hours and building links with the French instead of championing employers’ rights like they do. After all, as one French backer of the law put it, “society’s contentment cannot just be measured in a GDP index” Martine Aubrey, who introduced the law, a law which, incidentally, has a greater effect on women than men, defended the 35-hour week saying, “If we are on the left it is because we hope that every man and woman finds in their work not only a source of income but also a means of creating social value and that they can clear time for leisure and their families.”

The bosses, are being partially successful in their efforts to lengthen the workweek. The struggle over the 35-hour week in France and the employers’ efforts to turn it back after only a few years shows what will be necessary to win any serious reduction of working hours. But turning it back may not be a quiet affair even with the help of the politicians of the left, “I think we should go further, cutting it to 32 hours”, says Jean-Christophe Tirat, a croupier and shop steward in a Paris Casino, “Work is not there to make life completely unbearable: one should not dominate the other.” This view of the world is not a commonly held one with workers’ in the U.S. who eat breakfast on the run and take their one or two week vacations up at the lake. It should come as no surprise that only 16% of U.S. workers have passports; they don’t have enough leisure time to go anywhere. But in the last analysis it will only be our control over the labor process itself that will bring use the leisure time we need to develop our true human potential and open the door to freedom in the real sense.



Report this post as:

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

The Shortwave Report 04/06/18 Listen Globally! A05 4:25PM

Nicaraguas Conflic with native Peoples on the Caribbean Coast Near Bluefields in Decade80 A05 12:14PM

Millions Boycott The Sponsors Of Laura Ingraham A05 11:36AM

THE CONSERVATIVE THREAT A05 6:51AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy