Against the attacks by Macron and the bosses: carry on and amplify the movement!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
September 25, 2017

Hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets on September 12 and 21 to say ‘no’ to the destruction of French labor legislation and the anti-working-class attacks of the government.

And on September 23, many among those who marched in support of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his attempt to create a new avatar of the Union of the Left took this opportunity to voice their opposition to President Macron’s policies.

Indeed, Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe are openly devoted to the wealthy. There is no limit to the amount of money they are ready to hand over to capital-owners. For example, their reform of wealth tax is a gift to capitalists worth more than three billion euros.

The billions given so generously to the rich will come from an increase in the CSG tax[i], a reduction in housing aid, lower budgets in all public services, the loss of 120,000 public-sector jobs and the cut of 150,000 subsidized jobs that are essential in a lot of communities.

Macron recently declared that “democracy isn’t made in the streets”. But why should workers accept the attacks launched on their rights, on their working and living conditions just so that bourgeois families that are already rich can get richer? Liliane Bettencourt, multi-billionaire shareholder of l’Oréal, died recently leaving over 35 billion euros to her heirs.

Macron isn’t the first bourgeois leader to express scorn for demonstrators. In 1968, President de Gaulle called them “bed shitters” and in 1995, Prime Minister Juppé said that they wouldn’t make him “budge an inch”. But major demonstrations forced both of them to back down and abandon their plans!

Macron made a show of signing his executive orders in front of journalists, telling them “this reform will be valid on the date it is published”--January 1, 2018 at the latest. But signing a text in front of television cameras is one thing, applying it is another.

The outcome depends on the balance of power and worker mobilization. The movement has only just begun. Those who took to the streets openly reject the anti-working-class policy of the government and a large majority of workers share this opinion.

This week, several transport unions have called for indefinite strike action. Retirees will demonstrate on September 28. And on October 10, public sector workers have been called to mobilize.

It’s perfectly legitimate for all those who are affected by the government’s policy to react against what concerns them directly. Demonstrators are defending their living conditions, they want a decent salary or pension and a job that is not under threat or made more insecure. But separate fights, limited to a trade, profession or sector, can’t force the government to make concessions. What is needed is a general mobilization.

If working people are to see all these separate actions as part of the same movement, they need an opportunity in the near future to strike and demonstrate together on the same day and all across the country. Those who are conscious of the need for a massive and generalized struggle could address their fellow workers with such a date as a common perspective.

The CGT[ii] leader, Martinez, intends to consult with the other unions. But such a consultation shouldn’t be used as an excuse to follow those union leaders who refuse to organize even minor protests.

Macron and the bosses are waging a real war on workers and the working class to increase capitalist profit. And they’ll go on doing this until they are confronted with an explosion of anger from all working people.

The present movement must carry on and grow. Collectively, through strikes and united mobilizations, workers have the power to make themselves feared and to impose their rights.

[i] CSG (Contribution sociale généralisée) : a supplementary social security contribution created in 1991 by Rocard's Socialist government. It “extended” the tax base to include retirement and disability pensions, unemployment and early retirement benefits, etc. and provided for lesser contributions by the bosses. Its rate was increased over the years and is now bigger than income tax. It finances over 20% of all social security expenses and is paid mostly by workers themselves (over 90%).

[ii] CGT: Conféderation Générale du Travail. One of France’s major unions and possibly the most left-wing. As with most unions, the leader is usually ready to negotiate with the bosses and/or the government but the base remains relatively combative. CGT: Confédération Générale du Travail. One of France’s major unions and possibly the most left-wing. As with most unions, the leadership is usually ready to negotiate with the bosses and/or the government but the rank-and-file remains relatively combative.