More and more road “blockades” are expected on November 17th against the increase in gas prices. Originally put forth by small transportation company owners, greatly amplified by social networks, this call has resonated far beyond its initiators. Many in factories and offices have embraced it to express they are fed up with the constant decrease in their purchasing power.
Emptying our pockets to make new gifts to the rich
Gas prices weigh heavily on households’s budgets. Since November 2015, gas prices have risen by 65 %! Taxes make up 60 % of the price, with 20 % just for VAT.
But not everyone pays! Bosses are fully exempt from VAT on diesel fuel (and from now on all other types of fuel) for commercial vehicles and 80 % exempt for passenger company cars… Again, workers and low-income citizens are paying the most. When you work far from home, or in shifts, you often have to use your car.
The government takes from the poor to give to the rich. The latest gift to the rich: as the tax credit for competitiveness and employment is set to be replaced by exemptions from social security contributions, bosses will be able to claim both in 2019.
Many reasons for our anger
Wages are low, and haven’t risen in years while inflation is on the rise; small pensions are dented by increased social security contributions; benefits stagnate or even decrease; rents are sky high; and an accumulation of taxes on workers results in tax breaks for the rich.
The hypocrisy of “green taxes”
The government talks about an “environmental emergency”, aiming at eliminating diesel and the fine particles emitted by diesel cars. After decades of diesel engines being incentivised through tax breaks resulting in diesel cars being the most common today, the government now vilifies the “guys who smoke cigarettes and drive diesel cars”, as said contemptuously by the government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux.
As for the Macron buses that compete with the railways, do they run on freshwater? Like all governments previously, this one favours road transport over the railways: how can we believe they suddenly care for the environment?
Preserve the environment? Certainly, but only by targeting the true culprits: polluting companies, automakers who cheat emissions tests, and the State, which should provide free public transports. Workers shouldn’t have to use their wages to go to work.
Who can we count on to fight back?
The road transport bosses initially called for the road blockades of November 17th. This called was relayed by all reactionary politicians, from Le Pen to Wauquiez.
But the movement went far beyond these circles. In some companies, unions are calling to fight against tax hikes and for wage increases. In some towns, hundreds of people gather to discuss many topics from tax increases, job cuts in public services, to low wages. As some said, “the gas tax is the last straw that broke the camel’s back.” Most of the employees who are getting ready to participate in the gatherings on November 17th are certainly not counting on demagogues like Le Pen or Wauquiez.
Going on the offensive
Workers have been on the defensive for years. Today, millions of employees are angry at the high cost of living. It is urgent that they seize the initiative with their own demands: remove VAT on fuel, prioritise public transportation, increase all wages.