France: Wave of workers’ suicides

  • Left Voice | 
  • July 27, 2007

Since the beginning of this year, there have been five suicides by
workers in PSA Peugeot-Citroën Mulhouse because of the exhausting
conditions of work; these should be added to alarming cases in other

This is a sign of how alienation at work, as a result of the
recapturing of management’s power and control from all these years of
the neoliberal offensive, has made “life” in the factories completely
unbearable for the workers who in desperation have reached the point
of suicide, in view of this enormous oppression and exploitation.
These tendencies appear to be more widespread because of Sarkozy’s
attempt, in fact, to lengthen the work-day with his campaign slogan,
“Work more to earn more.”

The ideological and cultural campaign to achieve this aim is reaching
brutal levels, as shown by the opinion of the Finance Minister (who is
spearheading the new policies), that her compatriots should “think
less and work more,” as she stated in the National Assembly during the
discussion of the tax reform law, which includes abolition of the
taxes on bosses and workers during the extra hours. This is the land
no less that gave rise to rationalism with Descartes! It is
interesting that just as the cases at PSA and other firms have shown
the terrible negative face of this reality, a few weeks ago, in the
strike at the Kronenbourg brewery, against pressure for longer
work-days, now that summer is coming, with greater beer consumption,
they put up a poster on the factory entrance that charged, with dark
humor, “Work more, to die sooner.” A demand that disputes not only the
level of remuneration for labor power, but also the absolute power of
capital in production. A sign, small but enormously significant, that,
if it develops, could open a new stage in the class struggle in France.

To put an end to capitalist savagery and its miseries, it is necessary
to take up again examples like the struggle of the workers in May 1968
and the opposition to the “Ford” assembly line that developed in
factories in France, Italy and other advanced imperialist countries
during those years.

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