It is possible to make Macron back down!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
February 5, 2023

There’s no doubt about it: workers are unanimously opposed to raising retirement age to 64. Not only are the polls showing it, but on both January 19 and 31, over two million workers expressed their opposition by going on strike and taking to the streets.

And what does Macron have to say about it? That’s just the way it is, folks. And to keep us in waiting, Prime Minister Borne has said she’s going to “make some adjustments” once the bill is open to discussion in the National Assembly. The “adjustments” she’s talking about include allowing those who started working at age 19 or 20 to retire once they’ve paid into retirement funds for 43 years, that is to say before they turn 64. And we’re supposed to be thankful for that?

The other “adjustment” is just another trick to fool us. The senior index won’t only apply to companies with over 300 employees, but to those with over 50. Big deal! How can anyone continue to lift heavy loads or tighten screws when their back, shoulders and joints can’t take it anymore?

An index won’t prevent the bosses of big corporations from getting rid of employees who, according to them, are no longer productive or cost-effective enough, either because they are physically or morally worn out or because their wages are higher than younger employees.

The government doesn't care about us is. If we don’t want to work ourselves to death or end up on the dole, we have no other choice but to put up a fight!

And it’s the same deal when it comes to price hikes and lagging wages. If we don’t put up a fight, the bosses will continue to refuse to raise pay and we'll get poorer. That’s the way it is for everything. We have to fight to get paid for the hours we put in. We have to fight so that apprentices and temporary workers get hired. We have to fight so as not to do the same amount of work as two employees.

So long as major corporations dominate, it will be necessary to fight against exploitation and the destruction of nature and human lives caused by the law of profitability. Today, we are faced with an attack on our pensions but tomorrow we may have to fight to refuse to go to war given the current escalation in Ukraine.

It is important to show as of right now that we won’t be Macron’s or the bosses’ foot soldiers – neither for pension reform nor for any other sacrifice they want to impose on us. So, let there be as many of us as possible on strike and in the streets on Tuesday and Saturday to say that we’ve had enough.

All those who doubted the force of collective action can feel reassured: on January 19 and 31, the working class proved that it was capable of acting and speaking with a single voice.

The strikes affected a large number of privately-owned companies and public services. The demonstrations were massive. In some small towns, up to 20% of the population participated in the protests on January 31. Everywhere, non-unionized workers demonstrating for the first time joined the mobilization which shows that many are angry and that the anger runs deep.

We have started turning our anger into a collective force, we must carry on! Can we win and make the government back down? Yes, if we are able to amplify the strikes and make them spread so as to create a power struggle.

The government's reactions are proof that one-off days of strike action won’t be enough. Macron and Borne are indeed ready to pay the price even if it means being unpopular. What they fear, and what the bosses’ union fears, is a strike that starts and lasts in one sector and then spreads to two or three or more until it paralyzes part of the economy and causes the bourgeoisie to lose money.

That’s what happened in 1995, with the massive public-service sector strike against Juppé’s pension reform. Back then, too, the most combative and determined workers had to convince the more hesitant ones to go on strike. It was only later, by taking action and measuring, day after day, the new balance of power, that the workers realized that they could win.

This is what we have to prepare ourselves for, through discussion and by learning how to get organized in every workplace, in every sector, on every floor. No matter how united the trade unions may be in calling workers to strike action, their calls mean little if the workers don’t take up the fight and make it their own. So, starting Tuesday, let’s seize the opportunity to organize groups of combative workers capable of leading others! Let's take advantage of this day of strike action to discuss issues together, to gather in general assemblies, to formulate our demands, which go far beyond pensions, and to prepare for the future!

Nathalie ARTHAUD