France: This Summer, Let’s Be Hotter Than the Weather!

Protesters in Sri Lanka, April 2022 (source)

July 11, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Translated from French

On Saturday, July 9 in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, hundreds of protesters invaded the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was forced to flee. Faced with massive protests that continue in the country, the President of Sri Lanka announced he would resign on July 13.

The Rajapaksa clique is largely responsible for the catastrophic economic situation in Sri Lanka. They have been in power since 2005, and have taken out billions of dollars in loans that have only served to fuel corruption, and enrich the business community. As a result, after years of this regime, the country has ended up in an unprecedented crisis. The population is facing fuel shortages and inflation of over 50%. According to the United Nations, 80% of Sri Lankans are forced to skip meals. But the growing misery has finally given birth to the anger that all governments in the world fear: that of the exploited and oppressed.

At Home in France…

The outburst of anger in Sri Lanka is probably only the first of many to come. Faced with inflation and shortages, the living conditions of hundreds of millions of workers around the world are threatened. And not only in poor countries. Here too in France, we have to deal with soaring prices, whether at the supermarket or the gas stations.

Among our colleagues, our relatives, or our neighbors, who has not complained in recent weeks about the prices? How difficult it is to pay rent or bills? About the fact that everything is too expensive, and our salaries are too low? Some people around us start the month with an empty account, even overdrawn, dreading the next car or health problem, because they know they don’t have the savings to deal with it. The minimum wage in France is 1,300 euros, and the poverty line is at 1,100 euros; while the salary of many workers at the bottom of the ladder is enough for survival, it is not enough to really live. And even among those who earn a little more, how many vacations have been cancelled in recent weeks?

Fighting for a Life of Dignity

The bosses complain that they can’t hire! No wonder, given their wages and working conditions!

But the balance of power is becoming more favorable to workers. Strikes are breaking out at the moment to demand real wage increases: For example, the strikers at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport are demanding 300 euros per month, for all. We are no longer satisfied with bonuses, and the concessions of the Second Borne government (the government under the Presidency of Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne). After a round of parliamentary antics, the Borne government’s food voucher of 100 euros will not be enough to fill a real shopping cart.

To Strike Harder, Let’s Strike Together!

These struggles must be united to be effective. The SUD and CGT unions have set a national date for a general mobilization, but that’s not until September 29, and it is only to defend pensions. While it is necessary to fight back against Macron on pension reform, inflation doesn’t wait, and will continue to rise throughout the summer. And starting now, we should coordinate the struggles and amplify them, which the trade union confederations are not doing. Without an overall movement, we can only suffer the attacks of the employers and the government. We must make our emergency measures heard and imposed:

  • As the strikers at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport have demanded, we need a uniform increase of at least 300 euros to all salaries, minimum social benefits and pensions
  • No income below 1,800 euros
  • Hiring in all sectors in line with needs
  • An increase in salaries, allowances and pensions at the same rate as inflation