French pension fight continues. Strike down Macron and austerity policies!

Leaflet by Alternative Socialiste Internationale (our sister organisation in France)

Today, France has been on strike with massive demonstrations across the country. According to the CGT trade union there are 700,000 on the streets of Paris alone. In Marseille there are 300.000, Nantes 80;000, Bordeaux 55.000. Supporters of ISA were actively involved. Below we publish a translated version of the leaflet they are using. A fuller report follows later.

Set up strike committees in every workplace, every school, every district …

The attack on pensions was forcibly pushed through by Macron using article 49.3 of the Constitution sidelining the parliament. Yet the front of the country’s main trade unions is holding firm. The two months of struggle have created a balance of power that prevented Macron and co from daring a vote in parliament, and almost losing a vote of no confidence.

Macron and his government are weaker than ever. That is why police brutality is being stepped up. The use of tear gas is on the rise, as are complaints of arbitrary arrests by police. Women were dragged for metres by their hair by cops. Some were even sexually assaulted when they were arrested. The aim is twofold. On the one hand, to try to turn the protest into more violence (especially aimed at the youth) in the hope of creating division in our camp about what to do. On the other, to ensure the cohesion of the defenders of the current order around the government at a moment when a majority of the population supports the struggle.

The attacks on pensions and the whole policy of President Macron and Prime Minister Borne will not be defeated through no-confidence motions or referendums but through struggle! It comes down to seizing the opportunity to mount a determined offensive against Macron and the entire capitalist system.

The use of Article 49.3, to push through the attacks without a vote in parliament, took the movement to a new level. The anger and motivation to bring down the attack on pensions should be turned into a call for a general strike of indefinite duration with daily votes to continue. The strongholds of the labour movement can play a leading role in this, but attention has to be paid to involve the less mobilised sectors and strata.

We are the majority. If we organise, power is within our grasp

Support for an indefinite strike has increased since the use of Article 49.3. According to BFMTV, it is 58%. 68% say they still oppose pension reform and an almost equal number of French people, 67%, want the mobilisation to continue. This is a huge reservoir of mobilisation that should not be lost!

A number of sectors have called for an indefinite strike: railways (SNCF), Paris public transport (RATP), energy company EDF, some refineries, rubbish collectors in some cities and some teachers. The question is how to sustain this momentum, extend it to other sectors and deepen it, including by occupying companies. Where better to locate the struggle than in the heart of the workplace?

Shifting up a gear and going beyond the simple succession of separate strike and mobilisation days is absolutely crucial. There is an urgent need, if it has not already happened, to organise workplace action meetings open to all colleagues, whether they are union members or not, and to organise similar committees at high schools, universities and in the neighbourhoods to build a general strike of indefinite duration and to link the various initiatives of the struggle around it. The creation of democratic anti-Macron strike committees at local level, and then on a larger scale, would make it possible to involve all the movement’s support in the actions and in taking decisions, and to regroup the many initiatives.

Building the indefinite strike is a central step, but it is only one step in confronting the capitalist state. The prospect of a “million-dollar march” on the Elysée Palace from the regions, assisted by a multiplication of “Robin Hood actions”, would strengthen its anchoring. The stakes of the struggle go far beyond pensions: it is about the fall of Macron-Borne and the entire austerity policy.

For a society led by and for the majority

There is no shortage of resources! TotalEnergies made a net profit of 19 billion euros in 2022, the largest in its history. The listed companies of the CAC 40 distributed 80.1 billion euros to their shareholders in 2022! At the same time, they are the ones most supported by the government, with 157 billion euros of government support per year!

These climate criminals and all sorts of vultures should be expropriated and nationalised under workers’ control and management. In this way, and with the nationalisation of key sectors of the economy (finance, big business …), it would be possible to ensure a dignified future for all with respect for the planet thanks to rational and democratic planning of the economy. The organised working class could play the leading role and establish itself as the ruling class in society by involving the climate movement, the women’s movement and other social movements. This would lay the foundation for the overthrow of the capitalist system. With such a programme and approach, La France Insoumise could fully play its role of stimulating opposition and transforming the whole society.

With the “Robin Hood” actions, the striking energy personnel established free gas and electricity for schools, hospitals, social housing, public sports centres, public interest associations in a coordinated manner across the country. They also restored distribution to users disconnected due to unpaid bills and offered a reduced rate of up to 60 per cent for small traders, who did not get similar help from the government on rising prices! These actions are initiatives taken and coordinated by working people across the country at their workplaces. Decisions and actions are democratically voted on by the grassroots. This gives an idea of how the wealth produced by workers can be managed in a democratic socialist society.

Moreover, it helps small traders and makes this layer of society turn towards the working class and be more willing to support strike movements, to join them in struggle. It is a step towards expanding and unifying the struggle in our camp, overcoming the divisions, so precious to the right, and the favourite terrain of the far right! The latter dare not oppose the movement head-on. By relying on the class struggle, this protest movement is Le Pen & co’s worst nightmare. Indeed, it unmasks the hypocrisy of the far-right opposition. Their world is the same as that of Macron’s friends, with the addition that the far right wants to physically crush the social movement and impose racism and other forms of division with the boot. The labour movement in action is the best remedy against the divisions sown within the working class, because unity is necessary to win.

A ten-point programme to win
  1. Pension at 60.
  2. For a minimum pension aligned with a minimum wage raised to 2,000 euros net.
  3. For an immediate 10% increase in all wages and the return of the sliding pay scale. Bring the low-paid sectors under government control to guarantee a real status for staff, with good wages and working conditions.
  4. Guaranteed jobs and time to live: for a collective reduction in working hours, without a reduction in wages, with compensatory recruitment and a reduction in the pace of work. For women’s economic independence and an end to precarious work.
  5. For a massive public investment plan in care, education, social housing, sustainable public transport and climate protection measures. Public services must meet needs; they must be of high quality, accessible to all, within 30 minutes of where they live.
  6. Expropriation and confiscation of the assets of billionaires and reintroduction of wealth tax.
  7. Nationalisation of the energy and banking sectors under democratic control and management of the working class.
  8. The 5th Republic has turned out to be a republic that works only for the rich, for the creation of a truly democratic revolutionary Constituent Assembly based on elected representatives of struggle committees in the neighbourhoods, workplaces, universities and schools as a necessary step towards a truly democratic workers’ government that works according to the needs of all and not the profits of a few.
  9. We need a democratically owned and ecologically planned economy, with real democratic control by workers in companies and society as a whole to create millions of sustainable, well-paid jobs and build a new green economy.
  10. Towards a democratic socialist society based on the needs of the working class, the young, the oppressed and the planet.
Join International Socialist Alternative

The struggle to overthrow capitalism and establish a socialist alternative must be fought on the largest possible scale. That is why we are organised in more than 30 countries on all continents: in Europe, of course, but also in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the US, Quebec, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, Israel/Palestine and China, where we fight against the murderous capitalist dictatorship of the CCP. Over several decades, we have gained experience fighting authoritarian and oppressive regimes, such as against the South African apartheid regime, and now against the Putin regime in Russia. Our world party is not a sum of national organisations maintaining vague relations, our national sections meet regularly, discuss and draw up analyses and strategic conclusions together to build the revolutionary instrument needed in the current circumstances.

Previous Article

“Give us bread, but give us roses too” -- Over 200 attend ROSA International Socialist Feminist Conference, Vienna

Next Article

“Our Resistance is Not Made of Sand" – report from ROSA international conference

Related Posts