France: June 6 and Beyond: Our Anger Runs Deep and Isn’t About to Cool Off!

June 4, 2023 editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), translated from French.

On Saturday June 3, visitors to Paris’s Disneyland were surprised to see a parade of a thousand angry employees. For several weeks at the initiative of an “anti-inflation movement” (MAI) there have been protests to demand a 200-euro-per-month net raise for all employees to keep pace with rising prices and improve working conditions. Strikers have voted to continue their strike this week. After two and a half months of bitter conflict at Verbaudet, a mail-order company selling products for young children, strikers are preparing to return to work with their heads held high, having won a 90-euro net monthly pay rise. At many companies the bosses and the government have not seen the last of workers’ anger. And on June 6, many of us will again be out in the streets to affirm that retirement at 64 is still unacceptable!

The Real Democracy is That of Our Mobilizations

The government doesn’t care about the peoples’ unanimous rejection of its pension reform, and is exclusively preoccupied with the that rating that financial agencies give France, which in turn depends on its ability to subdue our social struggles!

The government’s precious democracy consists of ignoring our opinions and leaving us no institutional means of contesting its decisions. After the false promise of the Constitutional Council’s decision last month, it seems that a solution might have been found this week, with the proposed pension reform bill that LIOT (a group in parliament) was trying to pass by gathering votes from both the right and left. The Constitution, however, is designed to ensure that such attempts are dead-ends: after the use of the French Constitution’s Article 49.3 to force the passage of the pension reform, the government has now unearthed Article 40 of the Constitution, which would block moving back the retirement age, on the pretext of balancing public expenditure… As for the shared-initiative referendum that they tried to entertain us with for a moment, according to specialists in constitutional law it is designed never to be used. Since it was introduced in 2008, no attempt to use it has ever been successful.

Our social struggles are the only way for us to be heard. And that’s what the government is afraid of. But it seems they’re not the only ones who want to move on from the pension reform! Since the May Day demonstrations, the inter-union has not called for a single day of mobilization, and there has been no coordination of the scattered struggles across France over wages. The inter-union seems to follow the same timetable for mobilizations as parliamentary debates… which, as we have seen, is slow and has nothing to offer.

Against Macron, President of the Rich, the Struggle Continues

To distract us, the government is using all available means and even merging its voice with that of the far right, as did Interior Minister Darmanin with Operation Wuambushu in Mayotte (French territory), destroying the shantytowns with bulldozers, as did Minister of Public Action Gabriel Attal with the crack down on social and welfare fraud, designating the poorest as scapegoats, and as did Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Mair with his xenophobic remarks on immigrants. And it can be seen with the attacks on the recipients of RSA, a French social security benefit … When it comes to evil, nothing stops them, especially if it involves attacking the poorest.

But they can’t make us forget the hatred we feel for them, for Macron and his entire government. Hatred because of their refusal to listen to us against a backdrop of worsening living and working conditions. In our daily lives everything reminds us of the violence of their policies at the service of the richest. Our purchasing power is dwindling in the face of ever-increasing prices that boost the profits of giant retailers, energy companies and other capitalist sectors. These profits are well sheltered by tax fraud, costing the state at least 80 to 100 billion euros a year, which the government is careful not to punish. So, on Tuesday June 6, let’s join the strike and take to the streets. To defend our pensions, our wages and our living and working conditions, the fight goes on!