France: Macron’s Sound, Our Fury: The Pension Struggle Continues, and Will Continue!

April 24, 2023, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Translated from French

Wherever Macron goes, an angry chorus of clanging pots and pans follows him to protest his pension reform. While he claims loudly that it’s over and done with, that we need to turn the page, and that he will meet with the people to convince them to move on, at each speech wherever it is, he’s welcomed by a noisy crowd. So much so that last Thursday in a town named Ganges, in the department of Hérault, the police forbade any “portable sound device”… The absurdity of this was widely and deeply felt! Especially when the President’s security detail couldn’t protect his scheduled meeting at a local college because the EDF (electric company) strikers orchestrated a power cut. Instead, he held the meeting on small chairs in the middle of the courtyard … His “Tour de France” is likely to be very painful.

Macron and the CAC 40 (French stock market), Out of the Way!

Without even waiting for the May 1st protest, all those who have been mobilized against the pension reform for more than three months are taking every opportunity to demonstrate their anger and their refusal of this unfair reform. It’s like a guerrilla war against Macron and his government that is showing that the struggle continues.

On April 20, numerous actions were organized, including hundreds of railway workers invading the Euronext (European stock market) headquarters in La Défense (major business district in Paris) with the slogan “CAC 40 pay our pensions.” Euronext manages the Paris stock exchange, where the financial securities of large companies are traded. Also, the interprofessional General Assembly of the 92nd region and the national student coordination organized a demonstration in Paris, which was able to make the strikers in all work sectors, including the railway workers, visible in the streets.

We need to look beyond this government and how much it disgusts us and see that we need to fight a whole system: capitalism and its race for profit, which is leaving us with less and less to live on. This is why the struggle against the destruction of our pensions has taken place while strikes for wages have continued. Last weekend, flight attendants of the airline Vueling were on strike to demand a 15% increase. At Vueling, wages are at an all-time low! In the North of France, employees of VertBaudet (children’s clothing) are starting their second month of striking for wages.

On May 1st Everyone in the Streets, and Then Let’s Keep it Up!

The persistence of these strikes and the expression of the anger of employees across the country, with the support of the power cuts, allows us to see what we could do if these struggles were coordinated. As workers, we have a decisive power, provided we become aware of it and organize ourselves independently of the union leadership. On the other hand, we have nothing to expect from the resumption of a so-called social dialogue with a government that is only waiting for one thing: to continue to attack us in order to better serve the employers.

So on April 28, we can strike and mobilize on the day of International Safety and Health at Work. Every year, more than 1,000 fatal accidents on the job and on the way to work are reported in France. Not to mention occupational illnesses. And they want us to work two years longer!

Then on May 1st, the International Day of Workers’ Struggle, let’s get as many people as possible in the streets of all the cities in the country to proclaim loud and clear, with or without pots and pans, that no, we still don’t want this pension reform. From May 2 on, strikes, blockades, demonstrations, banging pots and pans, hunting down ministers, everything will have to continue until the withdrawal of the pension reform.