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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Valises patronales

by Jean-Pierre Landais

French Employers’ Bags of Money

Translated Saturday 27 October 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

Jean-Pierre Landais, teacher and moderator of the Huma Café in Nantes, scoffs and storms at the Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac (1) scandal.

The truth is finally out: the millions of euros heaped up in the bank accounts of the IUMM (the bosses’ association in the metal-working industries) were destined for at least one thing – the creation of a fund for strike-breaking. It has long been known – since the days of the infamous (you could often smell the sulfur and brimstone) 19th-century Comité des forges – that the best way for bosses, big and small, to silence the individual and collective demands of the exploited workers is intimidation, either by the use of force, by paying scabs and other strike-breakers, for example, or by persuasion, by dealing out bonuses and other compensations to the most docile workers. Thus, it is not enough to say “SOME trade unions were paid off,” and to use the scandal to launch the nth attempt at reforming the financing of trade unions (a measure that is of course necessary), it is still necessary to spell out which trade unions were involved. It will then be proved, and quite rapidly, that the people who received the suitcases stuffed with cash were not the workers, but in fact the bosses and the companies. It is, after all, necessary to pay (quite highly) the goons who come and haul the machines out of the factories, who knock down the strike pickets, who sometimes set the warehouses and workshops on fire, who recruit private militias, and it is also necessary to pay for training seminars in “conflict management” for these gentlemen, in exotic tourist paradises that the ordinary Joe slaving on the assembly line cannot even imagine ever visiting. But there is more: these fabulous sums of money were embezzled from the company payrolls. Thus this is capital that was taken away from the employers’ social security contributions, from improving working conditions, from productive investment (Ah! social security fraud and pension fund debts, I’d like you to show me that the workers are responsible for that!). The number one negotiator for the MEDEF (the association of French employers) in labour talks, Mr. Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac, an unsavoury individual who is going to be thrown to the wolves by his peers (with scarcely a self-critical glance) – let me scoff, or rather storm. First Denis Kessler and his “let’s end the advantages won in 1945 as fast as possible,” then the stockmarket wheeling and dealing of Jean-Luc Lagardère and co, and now Gautier-Sauvagnac. Is Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, the super smooth-talker, going to continue to get us to swallow the line that all the ill that our country suffers is due to the civil servants, to mention only those “fat cats,” who don’t get paid an annual 13th month’s salary and whose bonuses are only included in an infinitesimal proportion in the calculation of their retirement pensions?

The end of ideology? The class struggle is old hat? ... you won’t get me to believe that. Let’s open our eyes!

(1) Denis Gautier-Sauvagnac is president of the IUMM metal industry employers’ association and accused of embezzling company funds.


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