There is no substitute for rallying and strike action!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 10, 2023

With the passing of their pension reform, Macron and Borne thought they were over and done with the whole thing, and that it would only take a few days to turn the page. They couldn’t be more wrong because from one protest to the next, demonstrations are still going strong.

A war of attrition has now begun where the government is betting on protesters getting tired out. But millions of people think that working two years longer will tire us out much more than a twelfth day of demonstrations! As for workers’ anger, it isn’t wearing out, it’s building up.

Everything the government is doing to raise retirement age to 64 comes across as a provocation: all the lies about a minimum pension of 1,200 euros, the use of article 49.31 to quickly force the law through and now interior minister Darmanin’s use of violence and his attempts at intimidating demonstrators by increasing the number of arrests.

And every day there are more reasons to be angry. All you have to do is go to the gas station to fill up the tank or go for groceries. At the bakery, in big grocery stores, at the market... prices are soaring. And soon, our water bills will go up too because we’ll have to pay for the greed of companies like Veolia, Suez and others (which haven’t even maintained the pipes!) and for all those who steal and use up this common and essential resource.

And we can’t forget that the bosses of major corporations ensure their profit margins and dividends by refusing the very minimum, that is indexing wages to prices. And since the politicians and the government refuse to impose anything on the capitalists, all they do is whine about excessive superprofits!

That’s exactly how they are reacting now with yet another report proving that the capitalist owners of the highways have cashed in much more money than originally expected when the state signed them over. The report reveals a 20 billion-euro “excess in profitability”, stolen from our pockets at each toll. But the government won’t do anything to change that.

In the ranking of the wealthiest people in the world, France is at the top for both men and women with Bernard Arnault’s fortune reaching 200 billion dollars and Françoise Meyers-Bettencourt’s 80 billion. Yet we’re told that state funds are empty and the government has no idea where to find the money to finance schools, hospitals and pensions...

As for pensions, the government keeps repeating that it defends the pay-as-you-go system. But how is the money being distributed? Between workers on the payroll and retired ones, that is to say it’s a sharing out of the crumbs that the bourgeoisie lets us have once it’s taken away its profits.

So, it’s not sharing out, it’s stealing! The only way to have a really equal distribution system is to use the profits and big fortunes to finance wages, better working conditions and decent pensions. And to impose such a thing, we’ll have to put up a fight all together.

There will be no miracles from the Constitutional Council. This institution can, in theory, suppress all or part of the law. But the council members – from Fabius to Juppé – all have a long history of leading attacks against the working class. Six out of the nine members were even appointed by Macron and if they are considered “wisemen”, it’s because they have never done anything to displease the bourgeoisie which dominates society.

The Constitutional Council may accept the request to organize a shared-initiative referendum2. It won’t cost the council anything and it won’t bother the government at all. The procedure is so long and complicated that there’s little chance it will amount to anything.

There is no substitute for the collective pressure that millions of people in rallies and demonstrations put on the government and bosses. There is no substitute for the discussions between workers in the workplace, gathering together and getting organized to defend our class interests ourselves.

For a long time, the bosses and the government were able to impose their laws with the conviction that the workers, being divided and resigned, wouldn’t be able to massively strike back. One of the achievements of this movement of protests is to have shown that we are capable of fighting back and demanding respect, to have rediscovered the pride of those who put up a fight even when it’s a hard battle to fight.

Each new day of strike action and demonstrations helps us grow and become stronger. Each strike, each protest is a step forward for millions of working women and men. So, on Thursday, April 13, let’s demonstrate again, let’s be as many as possible!

Nathalie Arthaud

1 Article 49 paragraph 3 (49.3) can be used during the examination of a bill in public session in the National Assembly to allow the bill to be adopted without a vote. If the Prime Minister makes that decision, it means that the discussion of the bill is immediately suspended and the text is considered to be adopted without being submitted to a vote. It can only be stopped if a motion of no-confidence is tabled within 24 hours.

2 In French, “le RIP” for “référendum d’initiative partagée”.