French workers fight on against Macron

Strike committee meeting in front of the Amiens, France train station

By Antoine Lerougetel in France:

Amiens railworkers vote to continue strike against French President Macron

28 December 2019

More than 300 rail workers voted to continue strike action yesterday at a general assembly in front of the Amiens train station, with two votes against and four abstentions. Workers, students, teachers and “yellow vest” protesters had come to express support for the ongoing mass strike, which has lasted since December 5 and shut down rail transport across France.

In Amiens, strikers pointed out that their struggle has now lasted longer than the celebrated 1995 rail strike against then-Prime Minister Alain Juppé’s pension cuts, a precursor to President Emmanuel Macron’s current, far broader attack on the French pension system. They expressed their hostility to the campaign of the Macron government, the media and factions of the union bureaucracy for a “holiday truce”. Workers at the meeting unanimously insisted that there could be no return to work while Macron’s cuts might still be passed.

A confrontation is emerging between the working class and the Macron government. Members of the Parti de l’égalité socialiste (PES, the French section of the International Committee of the Fourth International) attended the meeting and distributed the WSWS article From Cavaignac to Villiers: The class struggle in France and the lessons of history.

Worker wears orange vest: 'The National Railways are not for sale'

Sophie, a bus driver, told the WSWS: “The right of the trade union leaderships to decide to stop the movement is a real problem. There can also be issues about financial ties between the government and the trade union leaderships. Then, there are the smaller people who are at the bottom of the ladder, like the ‘yellow vest’ movement, who have shown that one can achieve great things without going through the unions.”

She expressed her doubts as to whether an acceptable deal could ever be reached with Macron: “One thing is clear, it is the small people like us who can really lead to real change. I do not know where this will go today, but we must resist everything that the government is trying to impose on us. This is a struggle for our future. It is so hard today to work, I do not know if we will even have retirements, it seems complicated. So we must continue and resist to the end.”

Sophie added that “the struggle here is part of a movement on an international scale. I ask all those youths and workers to continue, to mobilize, and to demand their rights and hold on until the end.” …

Officials of the Solidarity Union Democracy-Rail (SUD-Rail), the … General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Workers Force (FO), and National Union of Autonomous Unions (UNSA) called on the meeting to vote to continue the strike until the cuts are withdrawn. One UNSA official said the UNSA national leadership had lost an internal vote in favor of a “Christmas truce.” …

A member of the CGT union speaks at the meeting

A CGT representative spoke to the meeting to promote the social concessions negotiated at the end of World War II by the National Resistance Council (CNR), which included right-wing Gaullists, social-democrats and … the Communist Party. …

The CGT member said, “What is this government doing? It’s dividing Social Security to sell it. Look at what is happening with the hospitals, the attacks on pensions, what is happening with family benefits … Just remember one thing: their goal is to privatize all of our pension funds, the system of public mutual responsibility that was established by the National Resistance Council.”

He added, “They want to grab what we call the common good for their pockets. … So let us fight together with the rail workers, fight all of us together in the private and public sector. It is a matter of our future and the future of our children.” …

The last major wage concession in France—the Grenelle Accords [after] the 1968 General Strike … occurred over 50 years ago now. …

A PES member spoke and recalled the 1995 strike he participated in as a teacher, where Juppé, staggered by the strike, ultimately saved the situation by calling the unions in to negotiate a deal. He recalled how workers “asked the unions not to go but to bring down the Juppé government.” A struggle to bring down the Macron government, he added, “is precisely what we must do today.”

He recalled how in 1995, teachers “knew the rail workers were striking for everyone, that the rail workers were representing the entire working class. The teachers’ unions refused to strike, but we went out anyway in the high school and went into the street in order to join your picket line.” …

A strike fund was set up at the meeting to assist striking rail workers.

French pension strikes to continue into new year, union warns: here.

French unions answer Macron’s declaration of war by calling for ‘all French people’ to join the strike: here.

7 thoughts on “French workers fight on against Macron

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  3. 3 January 2020
    French transport workers’ strike continues

    French transport workers and other workers are maintaining their strike begun December 5, in defiance of the CFDT and UNSA unions’ call for a Christmas truce. They are opposing pension “reforms” put forward by Macron’s right-wing government.

    In Paris overnight transport on New Year’s Eve was hit—in previous years some Metro, tram and bus services ran all night to allow people celebrating the New Year to get home. This year it was restricted to buses and three out of eight of the city’s tram services.

    The restrictions continued New Year’s Day with a severely limited service being provided by RATP, which runs the public transport facilities in Paris and the surrounding area.

    CGT union members are planning a blockade of oil refineries across France from January 7 to 10, which would quickly lead to fuel shortages at French filling stations.

    Talks with the government are scheduled for January 7. The unions will likely attempt a climb down in the face of the government’s determination to impose the attacks on pensions.


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  5. Pingback: Big strike in France continues | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: French workers keep fighting governmental injustice | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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