On the struggle against pension reform in France
In the Face of the Sabotage of Union Leaderships,
Lead the Struggle on a Class Basis!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 16; Spring-Summer 2020)
The day of action on 17 December was an undeniable success. While the transport strike (SNCF-railway, RATP-Paris subway and buses, etc.) continued, it was marked by renewed mobilization in the streets (twice as many demonstrators as on Dec. 10) and strikes, particularly in schools. That day the strike movement affected refineries and other sectors, while Arcelor Mittal steelworkers had been on strike since the 5th. Numerous picket lines were set up in bus depots in the Paris region despite police interventions to unblock them. The strike also affected the refineries and there was a blockade of many ports, etc.
The government was in trouble with the Delevoye affair : after the revelations about the concealment of some revenues, the minister in charge of making the proletarians swallow the degradation of their future retirement pensions was forced to resign; the CFDT and other ultra-collaborationist unions that supported the government project until now, were forced to oppose it - no doubt in order not to be disavowed by their base.
It was the moment to generalize and accentuate the mobilization and strike movement, as the unions had been trumpeting (we are going to ’harden’ the movement, they claimed!). Result: the Intersyndicale (interunion coalition) meeting that evening decided to... decide nothing: “it wasn’t completely mature to set a new date for national mobilization tonight”according to the education main union FSU. The workers were asked to fall back on local initiatives - which, inevitably, were little followed; at a time when proletarians have a pressing need to centralize and unify their struggle, the Intersyndicale tended to break up the movement while waiting... what? Railway workers who have been on strike for more than 10 days cannot wait forever for the union leadership to judge that the situation is mature!
But this is actually sabotage, pure and simple! The union leadership is too eager to continue the usual comedy of negotiations with the government to consider organizing a real struggle. “Without a response from the government in the next few hours”, the CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires unions “will decide on the necessary follow-up beyond December”! (Intersyndicale press release). It would be difficult to make more open mockery of the striking workers who are told to wait until next month (9 January). Strikers replied immediately: if the union leaders go on holiday, we will continue the struggle!
All these trade union apparatuses are defenders of the established order: above all, they do not want a generalisation of the movement that would risk becoming dangerous for the proper functioning of capitalism, threatening social peace and collaboration with the class enemies of the proletarians - whom they consider as “partners”. The is therefore betting on the exhaustion of the strikers, while the leadership of UNSA-Railways and the CFDT at the request of the government openly call for a ’Christmas truce’ to break up the movement.
No illusions! These professionals of the “social dialogue” with the bosses and the bourgeois State, will never be true defenders of the class interests of the proletarians.
Against this sabotage, open or not, of union apparatuses completely integrated into the bourgeois network of maintaining social order, salvation lies only in the organization of the struggle on class bases. Already in many places strike committees have been set up to lead the struggle, “inter-professional” general assemblies are being held to extend and unify the movement over the differences of trade and corporation, effective picket lines are being set up, and calls for national days of mobilization are being made by the strikers to get around the blockade of the union apparatuses. These initiatives are still limited, but they point the way forward for workers in the current and future struggles against all bourgeois attacks.
Organization and struggle on class bases independently and against any bourgeois and collaborationist influence!
Withdrawal of pension reform and all government anti-worker measures! Full wage to the unemployed and pensioners! Immediate upgrading of wages and all minimum social wages! Regularization of undocumented workers and migrants! Solidarity with the victims of police repression!
No truce in the anti-capitalist class struggle!
December 21, 2019
International Communist Party