All out on December 5!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 18, 2019

For too long, workers have been silently taking blows from big business and from the bourgeoisie’s political lackeys. It’s time to say we’ve had enough of low wages, job cuts and job insecurity. We’ve had enough of working conditions getting harder and harder! And leave our pensions alone! On Thursday December 5, let’s show how angry we are. Whether in the private or public sector, let’s grab this opportunity!

The government presents the calls for action on December 5 as calls for a renewable strike at SNCF (national rail) and RATP (the Paris transport network) and nothing more. The media also misrepresent the protesters as defending “special” retirement regimes. Well, workers are indeed concerned about their retirement conditions, but the anger is shared by all professions and trades in both the private and public sectors. The planned reform is an attack on all of us.

The government has dropped the concept of a “pivotal” age of 64 years, but the idea behind this scheme of theirs hasn’t changed: they want to make us work longer for smaller pensions. We have to combat this new attack on retirement pensions. December 5 is when we can tell them exactly what’s on our mind!

We’ve held back for years, hoping for better days. But waiting passively doesn’t work. We’ve been forced to take steps backwards in terms of wages, jobs, working hours, paid vacation, unemployment benefits, access to public services and now... retirement.

Better days are only for the capitalist minority that pockets the fruit of our work. Capitalists prosper because they aggravate exploitation and extend their parasitic domination over society. Billions are stacked in the bourgeoisie’s vaults, but public services for the population are no longer functional. This is true for education, transport and health.

In hospitals, working conditions are so bad and wages so low that HR directors find it difficult to hire and keep the personnel they need. Not a week goes by without the revelation of a new scandal directly linked to the lack of staff in state-run retirement homes (Ehpad). Precarity is also widespread among students. The despair of a Lyon student who could no longer pursue his studies was such that he set fire to himself. This has to stop!

A year ago, thousands of women and men put on their yellow vests to protest against a society that caters only for the rich. Protesters went on repeating that the better off shouldn’t push their luck. This feeling is now widely shared and is spreading.

For too long now, we’ve felt powerless, isolated, incapable of fighting back. Over the last few weeks, there have been more and more angry outbursts and demonstrations. Rail workers have taken strike action, sometimes without warning and hospital staff were on strike massively on Thursday 14. This mobilization shows that our class, the working class, has great fighting strength. If we united and marched together, we’d be so powerful that nothing could stop us.

Rail workers, just like public service workers, can bring society to a halt. This makes them a driving force in this kind of movement and they can exert a lot of pressure on the government. As for private sector workers, they’re the only ones who can put pressure on big business by stopping the profit-making machine. Yes, our strength is collective and no, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be divided.

The government is getting more and more anxious as December 5 approaches. A so-called “grandfather clause” has been mentioned as an alternative. To make us accept the government’s reform, it wouldn’t be applied to us but to the next generation. How cynical! Do they think that we could agree to condemn future generations to die at work? In fact, the government is afraid that the opposition of a sizeable number of workers might spread to the whole working class. In which case, they’d have to shelve their reform. That’s an indication that the momentum is on our side.

Of course, a single day of strike won’t solve all our problems. But it could be a good starting point. The success of December 5 would boost the morale of those who are thinking about prolonging the strike. Whatever ulterior motives the trade unions may have, this is the time to stand up and fight.

The government will fear us if we’re united and truly resolved. Let’s reinforce our collective strength! Let’s command respect! Let’s all walk out in protest on December 5.