“If we had really blockaded for 45 days, then Paris would be a mess in the truest sense of the word,” a Paris sewer worker told Le Monde last Friday. A majority of the sewer workers of Paris, who lose on average 17 years of life expectancy, have been fighting against the pension bill since December 5. Like most workers, they know that the new law means more chances to die at work and less chances of peaceful days after the age of 60. Meanwhile, a lone young president is becoming radicalized in his Elysée mansion.
Macron confides: “No one loves me”.
While promoting a so-called universal pension system, Macron and his government find themselves almost universally hated. Who is left to defend today’s point pension and the planned demise of the pay-as-you-go system? Aside from big business and Macron’s The Republic Forward elected officials (not even all of them…), no one. It’s not the “special schemes” that are protesting, it’s not the “civil servants”, it’s all workers: from factory workers to lawyers, from university professors to energy workers. Even the Council of State, a highly official body, has just, reluctantly, revealed the truth about the true costs of the project.
Equilibrium age: retirement in the cemetery?
The Council’s conclusion is clear: the whole project is to be trashed. The equilibrium age, supposedly a concession from the government, is worse than the pivotal age originally proposed. It goes from 64 to 65! The CFDT leader, who said this was the main sticking point, must appreciate being used as a doormat. Another issue is pension funding, which will go from 14% to 13% of GDP, a drop of €20 billion. Of course, it does no harm to say it again: all the fine forecasts about the future assume that unemployment never goes down. In fact, everything is painted worse than expected, the government has lied in every possible way and now finds itself more and more isolated in an ocean of discontent.
The struggle continues!
Last Friday, to the great surprise of those who proclaimed the strike over, the demonstrations turnout was comparable to that of early December. The strike is obviously less powerful at RATP and SNCF, but employees in these sectors have not given up. After more than 50 days of protests, new sectors are taking over and stepping up mobilization.
The teachers who refused to implement education minister Blanquer’s baccalaureate are organizing general assemblies everywhere. Hospital workers, university lecturers, librarians, Opera dancers and musicians and, alongside, all cultural workers, those from Radio France, not to mention in many towns and cities the local authorities, employees from the food-processing, chemical or energy industries, are increasingly numerous in the fight.
Voices are being raised everywhere. In Lille, last Friday, a lawyer declared “we don’t all have the same pension regimes, but we all have the same anger”.
After the Yellow Vests fight, this long strike is not over. It runs deep, an expression of intense discontent against a system of exploitation and inequality that must give way. This system must go!