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by Patrick Apel-Muller

Mr Hyde in Brussels

Translated Wednesday 24 June 2009, by Laure Tallot

Nicolas Sarkozy took us for a ride in front of the International Labour Organization: the pretence of a European stimulus programme to overcome the crisis is over!

« Either we’ll have justice or we’ll have violence ». Alternating between flights of oratory and bombastic declarations, Nicolas Sarkozy took us for a ride in front of the International Labour Organization. Actually the day of reckoning wasn’t far away: today we know that the minimum wage will get no little boost, once more the government wants to increase the age of statutory retirement, it is working on a reform of the Postal service which will result in privatisation, and the Members of the presidential majority recommend turning the SNCF freight transport into a subsidiary. The French Health Service has been weakened by the Bachelot reform, higher education and research by the Pecresse reform. But that isn’t enough: town and local administrations are the next target of the wreckers.

“I’m choosing my words carefully…” the President pretended in Geneva… However injustice is already present. Nicolas Sarkozy, disowning those who believe that “this crisis is only a parenthesis” – and they are many in his majority – intends to use it to wreak havoc in the situation of most people by tampering with their statutory entitlements as well as damaging those of the regional public servants and even turning the workers of the private sector into goods that bosses would be allowed to exchange by mutual agreement.

Rounds of redundancies follow one another in quick succession. Corporations take advantage of the crisis to carry out shareholder value-enhancing layoffs. Willingness is to no avail, as the workers of Sodomeca at Noyelles-lès-Seclin know only to well. They were praised as “the top students” of the Michelin Corporation and, in 2008, they achieved the best results of the world’s largest tyre manufacturer - which made huge profits. Nevertheless the management decided to cut 1093 jobs and to send 1800 workers into early retirement. But one should also add 157 layoffs in the Teleperformance call centres, 104 in Aubade, 700 in Marionnaud, 130 in UNM, 550 in TDF, 233 in the Pamco foundry, 366 in New Fabris, 50 in IMS and Precom, 94 in Forège… Jobs have been literally slaughtered these past few days. Moreover economic forecasters declare that this is only the beginning. The government stays put and even takes pains not to slow down the rush for dividends.

In Geneva Nicolas Sarkozy was playing Dr Jekyll; at the European Council in Brussels today he plays the part of Mr Hyde. He will give back the controls of the European Union to Manuel Barroso, who will set the mad train of privatisations rolling again and enforce the Lisbon Treaty, although the latter has been null and void since the Irish referendum. The pretence of a European stimulus programme to overcome the crisis is over! We are already told that the government’s priority is to reduce deficits and to improve public finances, which means cutbacks in services that are essential to the majority of the population. Now that the indignation caused by the crisis has worn out a little, the financial markets’ self-interest is again the compass of the European high priests. And, just as in Stevenson’s short story, the dark side of the Elysée guest has prevailed; it reveals the truth about the message and the messenger.

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