December 5th: time to go on strike, and to demonstrate!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 25, 2019

Factory, hospital and railway workers, bus and metro drivers, teachers, clerks and technicians... the success of the December 5 strike depends on each and every one of us.

Whatever the calculations of the trade union confederations, on Thursday December 5, all of us must answer the call and be there. We’ve already waited far too long to resist the setbacks imposed by the government and the big bosses. December 5 will be an opportunity for us to say “Enough is enough”. Let’s seize the day!

Macron is trying hard to present the strike as a sectional one aimed only at preserving the “special retirement schemes” of SNCF and RATP workers. It’s crystal clear that Macron would be delighted if the strike was limited to the transport sector. We've seen politicians use the divide and rule trick over and over again but let’s not fall into the trap! We need to get involved in this power struggle that concerns us all.

Macron has made his intentions clear: in addition to switching to a points-based pension system, he is preparing cuts to reduce the future deficit of the pension fund. This will mean new rules, which will force everyone to work longer.

At 62, the choice open to us-if you can call it a choice-would be either to retire with a reduced pension or to stay at work. Of course a huge fraction of workers would not even have that pseudo-choice, since more than one worker out of two above the age of 55 is unemployed or disabled!

The government dares to talk about justice because the new way of calculating pensions would be universal. But if we accept the new unified scheme, sure, we will get equality – in misery! We will all be put through the same ordeal as the job-seekers, who have recently seen their rights and allowances cut with open, shameless brutality.

The only justice – so far as the word justice means anything in this class society – would be for the government to draw the money needed from the profits of big business. It would be to make the rich pay for whatever allowances the workers they have exploited need when they are out of work or retired.

We, the workers, have accepted too many sacrifices for too long. Frozen wages, job cuts, increased workloads: you name it, we’ve been through it! “Be more productive, more flexible, more mobile!” Who hasn't heard those commands, which turn work into a living hell?

Last week, Macron met with a number of workers laid off by Whirlpool in spite of his babble about “doing his utmost for the factory not to close down” – and his only words were to blame them for not looking to the future… What kind of future are we supposed to turn to? A future where our children lead worse lives than ours? A future made of casual jobs, piece work and never-ending working days?

And all this for what ? For stock prices to go sky-rocketing until the financial edifice collapses once again? For luxury boss Bernard Arnault to see his fortune grow from $ 100 billion today to $ 200 billion tomorrow?

This is the future that Macron and his bourgeois friends have in store for us. Anyone who does not want such a future must react.

The pressure they put on us is just too hard, now something’s got to give. A point of no return has been reached in hospitals and in schools, on the railways and in the metro, and in many private companies too. Well we need to let out that anger!

If sacrifices need to be made, let the capitalist class make them. And why not make our mobilization on December 5th the beginning of that counteroffensive the working class needs so much?

After playing the appeasement card, Macron is now showing his muscles, claiming that he will reform at any cost. But he is not half as strong as he claims to be. Everything depends on the balance of forces, and it can be reversed if we, the workers, regain confidence in our collective strength.

Faced with a whole series of mobilizations since September, the government is afraid of a possible convergence and generalization of those movements on December 5th . That is the reason why the government has given a few crumbs to the hospitals. And that is the reason why, if the whole of the working class engages in the coming battle, Macron, like Juppé in 1995, could be forced to retreat.

One day of protest will not be enough to make a difference. But you’ve got to start somewhere. And if we manage to make the coming strike a success, it will give the necessary impetus to those who feel the strike needs to go on.

Now is the time to get into the fight. Let’s show the government and the big bosses that we are not their door mats! Together, on December 5, let’s all walk out and take the streets!