France: All on strike on March 22nd, to begin a general fight

The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members of L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in France.

March 19th, 2018

All on strike on March 22nd, to begin a general fight

There were a lot of retirees out on March 15th. Tens of thousands of them in the country took to the streets, to protest against decreased pensions, together with retirement home employees. They have been called “privileged” persons by Macron, who explains that since they aren’t all poor, they can pay. An MP who supports Macron even talked of a “golden generation”. But the “old ones” gave the example and encourage us to show up in high numbers on March 22nd.

All railway workers and public sector employees are called to strike and demonstrate on March 22nd. A few industries in the private sector, in chemistry and energy, are called to join in, as well as students, who protest against the baccalaureate reform and selective university admission. We must all go! To at last start responding to the war waged on us by the bosses and their government.

We all are someone else’s railway worker

            The government has launched a media campaign to denounce railway workers as “privileged”, to divide workers. If we believed these lies, we would all be “privileged”.

            Are railway workers privileged, since their special status protects them from layoffs? They work shifts, nights, weekends, and many of them start at minimum wage.

            Are hospital workers privileged, since they are civil servants? They run from one patient to another and take responsibility for the lack of personnel planned by the government.

            Are teachers privileged? Their numbers have gone down under Sarkozy, the promised recruitment wave by Hollande never happened, and Blanquer wants to reduce their numbers as students’ numbers skyrocket due to the baby boom of the 2000’s.

            Are employees of Carrefour, Air France, La Poste, PSA and elsewhere privileged, since they have a job? They even want real wages to make ends meet!

            Are the unemployed privileged? Considered as presumed “cheats” by the government, which wants to impose harsher checks on them, instead of offering jobs.

            In the meantime… large corporate groups listed in the CAC40 stock market index made record profits of €93 billions in 2017. Profits made on the back of the so-called “privileged”, using job cuts, wage freezes, and worsening work conditions. But it is the large corporations that the government wants to help, by making it easier for them to lay off employees.

Against a generalised attack, we need a generalised response

            So we must pull together and prepare a response to match the government’s provocations. This means make March 22nd a success and follow through in the strongest possible way.

            Against the planned reform of the railway system, the unions only plan a staggered strike starting on April 3rd, with two days of strike every five days, spread over three months. This is aimed to wear out the fighting spirit of the railway workers while the three major union confederations bargain with the government over their own interests. Nice display of unity! To win, we need instead unity of all workers in a real fight. Many railway workers have understood this, and start talking about continued strike and how important it is to get other sectors to follow.

            The government is focusing its attacks on railway workers because they went through large strikes in recent years and remain some of the most combative group of workers. Macron wants to break this fighting spirit, so he can better attack everyone else, just like Thatcher did with the miners in the UK. Thatcher won because the miners remained isolated. Let’s learn from this example.

            We all have reasons to be angry. All of us are attacked, the government carries out class warfare and makes plan after plan to serve the bosses. So we must make our own plan: to organise a common fight, build a general strike, not leave railway workers isolated. Let’s give ourselves the means to win!


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