The El Khomri Law: A New Attack on Workers!

For a long time now we’ve known that the Socialist Party (PS) government is totally subservient to the interests of the bourgeoisie; since its taking power the reactionary offensive of the bourgeoisie has only intensified. After the National Interprofessional Agreement (ANI), the “Responsibility” pact and the Macron Law, the announcement of the El Khomri bill rings out as a new and even greater attack on workers’ rights. Employers are not calling out favorably for nothing after the announcement by the minister of his project to reform the labor code.

In a few lines, the El Khomri Law is for example:

  • Placement of a ceiling on indemnities paid to employees who take advantage of the labor courts in the event of unfair or abusive dismissal. This allows employers to plan the cost of a layoff and carry it out without any problem; this new cap is of course well below the average severance pay amounts today.
  • The extension of the day rates in the TPE / PME [small and medium businesses]. Workers are no longer paid according to the hours worked but the number of days worked. In practice, this measure is the destruction of legal working time and the total subordination of the organization of a worker’s working time to the direct interests of the employers.
  • The corporate referendum that short-circuits and weakens the representative trade unions and empowers yellow trade unions. The social relations within companies will no longer be the result of a balance of forces but of plebiscites organized by the employers, struck through with pressure and repression.
  • The facilitation of economic redundancies, which will allow large multinational groups to organize the lessening of economic activity of their French branches by reducing the order book in a financial quarter in order to facilitate low-cost layoffs.
  • The reform of overtime pay, which will be fixed by a company agreement, which will make it possible to reduce the augmentation of these hours to 10%, while they are only augmented to 25% today.
  • Job retention agreements allowing employers to impose working time or other social reaction on workers, which we will be obliged to endure under threat of firing.
  • Non-binding professionalization contracts enabling employers to hire with reductions in payroll taxes without committing themselves to providing training worthy of the name to workers.
  • The 35 hour week that was already attacked from all sides is definitely buried. Indeed, the work week can reach 60 hours by simple company-union agreement without authorization of the labor inspection. Working time can be “modulated” over 3 years with a company-union agreement and over 16 weeks without agreement through simple unilateral decision of the employer in companies with fewer than 50 employees. The outcomes of a whole century of social struggle is placed in question by this employer’s offensive!

In short, this new social reaction is an attack against the interests of the working class and of all the proletariat: the PS government has declared a real war against the workers. It is a bosses’ reform that has long been demanded by the MEDEF [National confederation of French employers], which will allow the employers even more to press and to make precarious the proletarians, reducing us a little closer to the status of modern slave, of a machine to enrich the bourgeoisie that’s cast aside when considered unproductive. Gattaz, the president of MEDEF, welcomes it already! The right and the far right also, we see Menard was able to announce his satisfaction with the law.

And already the PS shows its true colors with its will to adopt this anti-popular and anti-worker reform by all means, including using the famous article 49-3 which allows the bypassing of parliament, which itself after all is a puppet institution whose purpose is to preserve the illusions of democracy. Of course, once again, it is the right and the employers who applaud heartily, saluting the courage of their servants.

All the unions, CGT in the lead, announced their opposition to this bill, even evoking the possibility of taking to the streets. We must be vigilant not to be dragged by reformist leaders into battles deliberately conceded in advance, as in the pension reform movement. Fighting the El Khomri law is indeed a vital necessity for all workers as its implementation would be a disaster. But if we want to win, we must now implement a strategy that allows us to go beyond the reformist directives of the trade union centers, that is, to spread the idea of the fundamental unity of all workers–unionized and non-unionized–with a very clear message that there will be no negotiation on this employer bill and that we will be engaging in methods of action capable of bending the employers and the government to our will. If we want to win, it is all of us, all together, who must strike where it hurts, i.e. directly in their wallet by preparing a great movement of general strikes, occupations, and re-appropriation of our places of exploitation, a blockade of the whole economy.

We do not want to duplicate the experience of the 2010 pension movement, where the union leadership did not do the work necessary to build a militant movement. This only disgusted all those who went into battle, all those who had the sense of being abandoned.

If we do not want to go from setback to setback, let us form tight ranks behind our flag, the flag of the working class, and let’s prepare to hold our heads high and take matters into our own hands.





C. Kistler

Also editor of Nouvelle Turquie.