SNCF, Carrefour, Air France, Universities, all together:
This is just a start…!
300 Carrefour supermarkets on strike last weekend, strikes planned at Air France, universities occupied by students against the social selection plan for university admissions. And of course, the SNCF strikes will have a very good turnout, matching railway workers’ anger. In all industries, workers face the same attacks, their bosses’ arrogance, and similar degradation of work conditions.
Macron has multiplied the attacks against all kind of workers since he was elected. He now attacks railway workers head on, hoping to break their fighting spirit and demoralise the working class, like Thatcher did with the miners in the UK. And 50 years after May 68, he risks attacking students, too.
But now, railway workers have decided they had enough. Students, too. Carrefour employees, too, are responding to their CEO’s decision to reduce their year-end bonus to peanuts, after just announcing thousands of job cuts.
It’s obvious there is widespread discontent. Railway workers, students, Air France, Carrefour, hospitals on strike. And on March 22nd, there were between 350,000 and 500,000 people in the streets.
“Keep the pedal to the metal”… the government hopes
To reassure himself in front of the protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe posted on his Facebook Live that “we must keep the pedal to the metal”. Recall that his political mentor, Alain Juppé, played on his reputation of a “self-assured” politician before backing down to the December 1995 movement of railway workers and civil servants that was about to turn into a general strike.
Today, despite the mobilisation’s success, the hard line does not come from union leaders. Even though, on March 22nd, the joint railway workers union did not call for a strike, one third stopped work. Many of them realise what is at stake, and start discussing a real strike, that is, an unlimited strike that must be led by the rank and file and could entrain other sectors… But the joint railway workers union only plans for a staggered strike they can fully control, with two days of strike every week, from April 3rd, spread over three months. An intermittent strike, while the three major union confederations bargain with the government over their own interests.
Faced with rank and file anger, the CGT union proposes a new general mobilisation, but not before April 19th! But the government won’t back down because of a day of action every three or four weeks! And that’s precisely the goal: to make Macron, and the bosses behind him, back down. Fear of a general strike will make them give in.
Will we see a crystallisation of the fights?
This is what Macron and the bosses are afraid of, and for good reason. Joining our fights together is on the agenda.
Against the concerted attacks from government and bosses, the only response is to join all the fights from public and private sectors. Protests can multiply and snowball in offices, workshops, shopping centers and of course transportation and all public services. We need a mobilisation that turns into a global movement, a general strike.
Such a movement will be built through coordination of the fights in different industries. This will have to be done by the workers on strike, to give the union leaders no choice in the matter.
Against the bosses and the bourgeoisie, who have never raked in more money, it is time to respond. How? “All together!” as thousands of railway workers called on last Thursday.