After 38 days of strike action, Édouard Philippe dropped a bone to the so-called “reformist” unions, CFDT being the main one. He followed the advice of his party representatives, worried about their re-election, and especially afraid of a possible extension of the strike. So, goodbye to the “pivotal age”, which aims to a decrease pensions before the age of 64. But only until 2027! And only if the “social partners” find another way to push back retirement age at a pompous “conference on the balance and financing of pensions” in April. Laurent Berger, general secretary of CFDT, speaks of “victory”. But the strikers are not fooled. For them, the complete withdrawal of the pension reform project is still on the agenda.
There are no “social partners” in a class struggle
This conference is supposed to “imagine” new savings measures to restore financial balance before 2027. Its goal? To find new tricks to line workers’ pockets. In any case, this haggling with CFDT (almost internal government negotiations) is a sham that has nothing to do with the strike and those who are on strike.
Another aim is to hide the fact that the main thing is to implement the point-based pension wanted by Macron and… CFDT.
The government is certainly not considering to make employers pay for the announced pension deficit: a deficit that is small compared to recent cuts in employer contributions and even more so compared to the record dividends paid out in 2019.
The “partners” are also not considering to impose hiring in large companies and public services, which would bring in new contributions. So what can be done, then? One way or another, raise the retirement age.
In fact, the “pivotal age” is still in effect after 2027, and the government is already planning to move back year by year the age one can retire with full pension.
So no way! The only way to finance pensions is to make the rich and the exploiters pay by imposing wage increases, a ban on layoffs and the sharing of work among all.
The strike keeps going and new industries start to mobilise
Striking SNCF and RATP employees are holding firm, despite the record length of the strike. The day of action on 9 January, long awaited by the strikers, was a success, with a still impressive number of demonstrators. Saturday 11 January was again a success, with demonstrators coming from sectors where it is more difficult to go on strike, particularly in small businesses.
Teachers were once again well represented, and brought their school banners. But also lawyers, who, on 8 January, had thrown their robes at the Minister of Justice who had come to present her new year wishes to the court in Caen. A few processions of private sector workers as well. On 9 January, in Paris, workers from PSA Poissy stood on the path of the demonstration to display their support. Striking workers from SNCF and RATP had gone to address them in front of their factory the day before. In Lille, workers from the Cargill food factory, whose 183 jobs are under threat, led the 11 January demonstration. The fight against pension reform is also an opportunity to put all demands on the table, starting with keeping one’s job: a job now, not at 64!
“The strike belongs to the strikers”
The extension of the strike is still necessary, but so is its structuring: with strike committees to discuss and organize at the grassroots, with sector coordination and inter-industry coordination to decide together on the follow-up actions. Some have initiated such coordinations, but they still need to be strengthened to become truly democratic strike management bodies. They are more than topical at a time when some union leaderships are starting to let go of the movement.
This week, the strike must continue to be stepped up in order to bring the government to its knees and make the demonstrations even more massive.