No, the wave of protest is not over!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
January 20, 2020

Today, although most SNCF and RATP strikers have reached the limit of their possibilities with 30, 40 or 50 days without pay, thousands of women and men are still on strike. And there is every reason to believe that the call for strikes and demonstrations on Friday January 24 will once more be massively followed.

Those who have been fighting for a month and a half will not be silenced overnight. As long as they have the strength, they will oppose and denounce Macron’s anti-worker policy. Their tenacity is an encouragement for all workers. Some call the strikers and the demonstrators “extremists”. But the “hard-liners” are on the side of the government, whose reform will push a growing number of retired workers into poverty.

Last weekend, a choir of Macron and Philippe supporters – from ministers and members of parliament to journalists – denounced the alleged radical and violent turn taken by the movement, because Macron and his cronies cannot move an inch without being greeted and booed by angry “reception committees”. However, the videos of demonstrators beaten to the ground by policemen show clearly enough which side the violence is on.

Yes, the hard-liners are on the side of the government and of those rapacious capitalists who have no scruples when it comes to emptying the workers’ pockets. The extremists are the super-wealthy shareholders who organise layoff after layoff and impose indecent wages, with no other purpose than to turn their millions into billions, and their billions into trillions.

While we are fighting not to lose 200, 300 or 400 euros on our pensions, Carlos Ghosn is claiming – in return for his loyalty and devotion to Renault – an annual cap retirement of 770,000 euros, a sum few workers can hope to earn in a lifetime. The icing on the cake is his claim for the allocation of 15 million in shares.

In the meantime, Macron has welcomed the spokespersons of the true masters of society at the Palais de Versailles: 200 CEOs representing some of the largest international corporations. Over an exquisite meal or during the visit to the Queen’s apartments, he no doubt promised these modern lords further tax cuts, assuring them he would do his utmost to provide them with docile and exploitable laborers.

It is this policy, so openly in favor of capitalist predators, that is fuelling the exasperation of the working classes.

The yellow-vest movement had already shown that anger was simmering in the world of labor, among precarious women, artisans and retirees, among the self-employed too. The mobilization since 5 December gives an idea of how deep that feeling is, with the intervention of new and larger categories of workers, those employed in transport but also in education, culture, justice and health.

There is no doubt that anger is also brewing in the overwhelming majority of the working class which has not yet moved. That anger has accumulated over the years, fed by unceasing attacks from big business and left-wing or right-wing governments. Wages, jobs, working conditions, workers’ rights, access to public services: you name it, they degraded it. That anger is bound to explode eventually.

Wherever we work, in the private or in the public sector, in industry or in services, we will have no choice but to fight, because the bourgeoisie will be relentless in its attacks.

In the very midst of the protest over pensions, big business has announced new waves of layoffs. This is the case, for example, at Auchan, a big chain of supermarkets. Without even waiting for the end of the strike, SNCF management have announced a plan to save a billion euros. In other words, they’ll continue to rob the workers. To stop them, to protect ourselves, the path of collective struggle is the only alternative.

Today, the dispute over pensions continues, which exasperates Macron, Philippe and their bourgeois world to the highest degree. These gentlemen used to commanding and being obeyed, find it hard to discover that the workers can strike back. Well, they’re going to have to get used to it!

The SNCF and RATP agents have demonstrated that it is possible to free ourselves from the shackles of resignation. They have shown that, despite the bosses’ attempts to divide the workers, despite their pressure to silence them, they can raise their heads, they can be united in their struggle to gain respect.

It is a lesson that will make its way into the consciousness of those millions of workers who, day after day, feel they are being pushed to the limit.