We’ll get no satisfaction from Matignon! We need to be millions again, on strike and in the streets on Thursday!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
April 3, 2023

We’ll get no satisfaction from Matignon1! We need to be millions again, on strike and in the streets on Thursday!

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is supposed to meet up with the leaders of the major trade unions2. They’ll all be there, the CGT having indicated, through its new secretary general, Sophie Binet, that it will honor the invitation. But Borne has said it over and over again: raising the retirement age to 64 is now official, she will therefore refuse to negotiate on pensions.

Apart from sipping tea and coffee, what are the union leaders going to do at Matignon (the Prime Minister’s headquarters) on the eve of a new day of action? Will they just chat about the weather and leave with some symbolic measure to make everyone accept this step backwards? Or will they really make the withdrawal of retirement at 64 a prerequisite for any discussion?

Laurent Berger (secretary general of the CFDT) keeps insisting on his constructive role and his willingness to negotiate. He’s no doubt in a hurry to get it over with and pick up his position as privileged government contact. All the trade union confederations are feeling the same pressure. This includes the CGT, FO and Solidaires, whose officials spend much more time talking with the employers' or the state’s representatives than helping workers to organize and fight in their workplaces.

Nothing good can come out of this kind of meeting. We shouldn’t stand around waiting for the Constitutional Council verdict3. This institution, composed of proven servants of the bourgeoisie, can, in theory, censure all or part of the law on pensions with legal arguments. But it will only do so if it feels opposition and pressure from the working class.

For two and a half months now, it is the mobilization of millions of workers that has mattered. Millions of women and men, from factory workers to home helps, garbage collectors and clerks, have spoken out to say "enough is enough". That is the message still weighing on the government, on political life at large, and pushing trade union leaders to fight with the government.

Physically demanding work, health problems, the difficulties of shift work, wages that don’t keep up with prices, contempt from management: these issues are no longer just objects of discussion between trade union and ministerial experts. They are the sources of the anger that has spilled over on the streets, the roots of the demands expressed week after week by the exploited themselves.

No one knows better than we, the workers, knows the problems encountered on an assembly line, on a building site, in a hospital or in one of those administrative departments where the means are lacking to do the job properly. No one knows better than the working class what it means to have nothing left in your bank account by the 10th of the month, and to have to choose between filling your shopping cart and heating your home. So it’s up to us to express our demands.

We have started a fight and we need to see it through. Macron won't give in? Neither will we, because we have no reason to accept such injustice.

Normally, we are riveted to our machine, our workstation or our desk. The hard work and pressure from foremen and supervisors often stop us from talking to our co-workers and from getting to know each other. Well, let's take the opportunity of the present movement to start talking and get to know each other! Let's take this opportunity to escape, even if only for a day, from the exploitation and domination of the bosses. We can take the time and let it all out, so let’s make the most of it.

By striking, garbage collectors have reminded us that garbage does not collect itself; refinery workers have shown that the tanks in the gas stations are not filled by the Holy Ghost; railroad workers have proved that trains can’t run without switchmen, ticket collectors, drivers and maintenance agents... Many workers have become aware of their indispensable social role and of the collective force they represent.

It’s as clear as can be: if we all feel that work is hard, it’s because being exploited is hard for everyone, whatever the job, and whether we work in the public or private sector!

Conscious of our unity, conscious of our numerical and political strength, let's continue to mobilize! Let's not let anyone speak for us! Macron is tired of this fight, let's show him that the working class has plenty of energy left. Let's show him that the workers, who are brave and dedicated enough to keep society running, also have the courage to fight back and gain respect!

Nathalie ARTHAUD

1 We’ll get no satisfaction from Matignon !’ (« C’est pas à Matignon qu’on obtiendra satisfaction! ») is a popular slogan in demonstrations.

2 Since the beginning of the movement, it has been led by an “intersyndicale”, i.e. an inter-union alliance bringing together all unions, both those with a “reformist” reputation (like the CFDT, the CGC and UNSA) and those with a moire “radical” one (like the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires).

3 Their verdict is expected on 14 April.