Workers can stop Macron if they keep fighting

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
May 28, 2018

On Saturday, May 26, tens of thousands of demonstrators protested against Macron, his government and their political line. Macron defends the interests of the tiny minority of super-rich who rule society. According to the government and the media, the demonstration was not the expected success. They've been repeating the same mantra for nearly two months now but have failed to put an end to the railroad workers' strike or to the growing discontent being expressed!

The present movement has given hundreds of thousands the opportunity to say how much they hate Macron. And, in a referendum organized by the union leaderships, a huge majority of SNCF workers reiterated their support for the strike with a resounding "NO" to the government's plans.

The only response that the government has come up with is to tell the railroad workers that they should accept the reform because the state is going to pay part of SNCF’s debt. But the workers are in no way responsible for that debt! In an attempt to make the strike unpopular, Macron’s ministers and media commentators keep repeating that this decision would cost tax payers 35 billion euros.

SNCF didn’t borrow money for the railroad workers! It borrowed money to enrich big conglomerates, their shareholders and billionaire owners—like Bouygues (construction industry, telecommunications) and Vinci (road construction, toll highways)—and also the banks who are still raking in interest on the debt. They are the ones who should pay off the debt, not the railroad workers!

Macron has the same policy as all former presidents: make the workers, thanks to whom the whole economy functions, pay the billions that the state gives to capital owners like Bernard Arnault (luxury goods), Vincent Bolloré (transport, logistics) and Serge Dassault (aircrafts, arms). So that the major capitalists and even their smaller scale counterparts can get the dividends they feel they deserve, workers' wages are frozen, job insecurity increases and public services undergo cuts that affect every sector from transport to schools and hospitals.

Railroad workers are right not to accept the government’s lies and deceit. They’re on strike for the employment and working conditions of all rail workers.

Railroad workers can be proud of raising their heads and showing that, even on their own small scale, when workers act, using strike action as a weapon, they can upset this so-called “democratic” political game. A game in which a minority of politicians, happy to serve the big bourgeoisie, can make decisions that destroy the living and working conditions of thousands or even millions of exploited people.

The railroad workers’ movement has had an effect on politics. Suddenly, the sleepy humming of parliamentary debate and the little games that the different political parties play appears to be disconnected from reality. We are getting a taste of the power that the working class will have over political life when it stands up to its oppressors.

The railroad workers' strike has clarified the political stance of the right and far-right parties. The traditional right wing voted "yes" to the reform and showed their enthusiasm for opening up SNCF to competition. The Front National opposed the reform for fear of a strike: the Front National only likes workers when they’re submissive and resigned.

The left-wing parties which organized the May 26 demonstration have shown some opposition to Macron and his majority. But they haven't said a word about those who pull the strings, who manipulate Macron and dictate his policies. What good would it do to replace Macron with a new Mitterrand, Jospin or Hollande? Left-wing politicians and parties who make promises to get elected but, once in office, carry out the same policy as the right wing. There’s no way they’re going to challenge the big bourgeoisie or the capitalist order.

SNCF strikers have refused to be defeated without fighting back. Macron hoped he could force his reform on them but it turns out he was wrong! The railroad workers have thrown the first spanner in Macron's works! They can’t change the balance of power by themselves but they are showing the way! And sooner or later, because of Macron’s arrogance and the bosses’ greed, their discontent will be transformed into genuine revolt.