“In Lyon-II, we have students who go hungry:” the president of this university, Nathalie Dompnier, evoked the 22-year-old student Anas K, who set himself on fire to protest against the precarious situation of many students, like his own. Everyone was upset – parents whose children struggle between college and odd jobs, teachers amazed to find that some of their students come to their class with empty bellies. And the students, of course: in all the major university cities, they gathered not only to pay tribute to Anas K, but to shout out their anger.
France is a champion of inequality
We live in one of the richest countries in the world, whose companies pay top dividends to their shareholders. A country where Macron-Philippe, like their predecessors, are determined to make the rich ultra-rich by making the poor ultra-poor. But after a year of Yellow Jackets mobilisation, clouds are gathering above their heads, forcing them to be more cautious.
Hospital staff anger
Last Thursday, the hospital staff mobilisation was a success, with a huge demonstration in Paris that brought together more than 13,000 people. Indeed the movement is spreading, with all hospital departments being involved, taking over from the emergency departments whose first strikes had started back in March!
Faced with increasing anger, Macron promised an “emergency plan” for hospitals to be announced on Wednesday. This is mostly an accounting trick, shifting the €30 billion hospital debt to the state budget. By taking from where, this remains to be seen, and it is not clear whether the deadly cuts on healthcare will stop! Or if staff demands on working conditions and wages will be met.
Macron-Philippe on tiptoe
Recently, Macron-Philippe have been trying to clear the mines. They suggest they are ready to move back on some of their reforms, while leaving themselves the opportunity to bring these projects back to the table.
Pension reform? Macron says he is ok for it to apply only to “newcomers” to the job market… But what would be unfair to us would be just as unfair to young people!
The bill allowing food retailers to make their employees work until midnight without paying overtime? Not just now… but maybe after negotiations with the unions.
Everyone is thinking about 5 December, when several trade union confederations are calling for a day of strike action in all sectors. Driven by the anger of their base, the unions for Paris public transport (RATP) and the railways (SNCF) even called for the strike to continue the following days.
But what are the objectives of the unions leaders? The outright withdrawal of Macron’s project or… the opening of negotiations that will lead to uncertain outcomes?
This would not be the first time that union leaders have agreed to sacrifice strike action for uncertain negotiations. This was confirmed by the Secretary General of the CGT himself, Philippe Martinez: on Wednesday 13 November, he told Sud Radio that 5 December strike was still avoidable… What a strange way of mobilising!
Our fights and their spread, not talks, made Macron back down. If we lower our guard, he will be back on the offensive, as shown by the unemployment insurance reform that has just come into effect and has hit many among the unemployed.
So let’s not give up anything, and prepare for 5 December and its aftermath. Let’s organize ourselves from the rank and file, as the Yellow Jackets and emergency room staff have begun to do. Let’s coordinate all our forces.
Macron has sown hatred in all industries. May he reap the social storm he fears so much.