June 6: we won’t be sent back to the past, let’s strike and take to the streets

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
June 4, 2023

The alliance formed by the major trade union confederations (CGC-CFDT-FO-CGT-Solidaires) is calling for a day of mobilization on June 6 against retirement at 64. Let’s answer that call to repeat, as we did en masse on May 1, that our opposition remains intact. Let’s show that we don’t accept this step backward and never will.

We should also take this opportunity to affirm that we are not resigned to seeing our living conditions deteriorate, that we refuse low wages and the soaring prices imposed by the big capitalist gangsters.

To divide the working class, which is still united in its opposition to retirement at 64, the government is resorting to the usual worn-out tricks: a bill against RSA1 recipients, another on immigration. We need to condemn what they’re doing!

Passing off RSA beneficiaries as people who don’t want to work is disgusting. How many are workers who are now disabled, how many have been made redundant or live in regions ravaged by unemployment? How many women have no other option but to live on this pittance of 600 euros, because they look after a disabled child or a sick relative 24 hours a day? It is these workers, hurt by the race for profit and abandoned by the State, that the government is insulting and threatening with a suspension of their benefits!

The government’s contempt is coupled with a healthy dose of hypocrisy when Darmanin threatens to tighten the conditions for regularizing undocumented workers, to limit visas and even abolish the right to family reunification. No company, no factory, no building site, no hospital or nursing home would function without the daily work of millions of foreign workers. Without our fellow immigrant workers, big business would run out of hands to exploit.

We cannot let the government get away with its lies and anti-working-class demagoguery! We must not let them divide us! The only parasites, the biggest thieves and recipients of public money in this society are the capitalists! Let’s speak out again, all together, to assert our interests as workers.

The leaders of the trade union confederations have chosen to call a strike on the eve of yet another parliamentary episode. But this whole circus will lead to nothing. As we have seen since January, laws, institutions and the Constitution are tailor-made to enable governments to adopt the anti-worker measures demanded by big business. No miracle will come from Parliament. For the trade union confederations, the choice of date was undoubtedly a way of turning the page by putting mobilization on the back burner. It was also a way of proving to Macron their respect for institutions and their sense of responsibility to Macron. It was also a way to prove to Macron how much they respect the institutions and take their responsibility seriously.

Whatever the calculations of union leaders, let’s seize the opportunity to demonstrate and strike in large numbers on June 6 to assert the interests of our social class. Let’s show that we rely on our own strength only to turn things around!

Our mobilization over the past few months has highlighted one of the strengths of the working class: its sense of solidarity. What’s more, the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators – young and old, from the public and the private sectors, whatever their job – have rekindled our awareness of forming one big social class, a collective force that aspires to be respected.

This is an essential first step, because it’s the only way for society to progress. This is the path to follow, by giving ourselves the means to discuss our issues together and keep up the fight.

In times like these, we can think about not following in the bourgeoisie’s footsteps and can grasp the scale of the struggle ahead.

There is no reason to resign ourselves to retirement at 64, low wages, inflation, declining working conditions–and there is no more reason to resign ourselves to exploitation and capitalism.

The exploitation of man by man is no natural law. That there are men and women forced to sell their labor force and submit to a boss, his moods or his order books, is not natural. That humanity is divided into exploited and exploiters, rich and poor countries, is the product of history, the history of the class struggle.

The class war must be waged now with the conviction that, one day, we’ll have to go all the way, until we gain our total emancipation – the end of exploitation, the overthrow of the domination of the bourgeoisie and of its capitalist system.

Nathalie Arthaud

1RSA (Revenu de Solidarité Active): an allowance paid to people who have no income at all, whether or not they are able to work. The amount is around 600 euros per month for a single person. Although non-taxable, there are a number of conditions attached.