What Now? Don’t Give Up!

The massive success of the June 14 demonstrations is clear. The mobilization against the Work law has continued for more than three months and shows no sign of letting go. Different sectors went on strike: refiners, garbage collectors, railway workers… At the same time, in different regions, work stoppages or strikes have taken place in the private sector to fight on wages, work conditions, or against restructuring and job cuts. The government used the 49-3 to force the law through, police repression, the threat of requisitions. But its pro-boss offensive does not work. The June 14 demonstration was an opportunity to say it again.

Hollande and Valls invoked the image of France as Euro 2016 is going on to say: “there is a time for a strike to stop”. But why doesn’t the government stop its pro-big business policy?

If this government knows how to do something well, it is to help the rich. The Canard Enchaîné and Mediapart revealed last week how the fiscal measures taken by the left allowed some of the richest billionaires in the country to pay no wealth tax at all.

Hollande and Valls sought to “defuse” the movement by trying to isolate the different fights. By promising a few crumbs for some sectors, or by postponing some minor reform project. Or, as against the railway workers fight, by seeking to sow division among the workers. But to no avail. All salaried sectors were present in the street on June 14.

Propaganda against the railway workers’ strike

On strike since June 1st (and some since May 18), the railway workers are fighting against the reform of the regulation of their working conditions as well as against the Work law.

Ministers keep repeating that the El Khomri Act would not affect railway workers. That’s a big lie: because the Labour Code applies to railway workers, too, and therefore the Work Act targets them directly. The same liars also claim that the agreement proposed by the direction of the SNCF, on June 6, met the demands of railway workers, and even more. Another lie, since this agreement contains provisions that are real setbacks compared to the current labour regulations. Among the attacks, is the possibility to change work schedules with only 24-hour notice.

The bosses’ blackmail is well known: we should accept, even welcome, an unfavourable company agreement, called “competitiveness agreement” or something else, on the pretext that they removed even more aggressive measures. Not to mention the layoffs coming one or two years after the signing of such agreements.

This kind of blackmail is precisely what the Work law would establish, allowing company agreements to be inferior to the Labour Code and to collective agreements.

So railway workers are absolutely right to reject both the Work Act and this agreement. They are right to strike to fight for their rights.

A successful demonstration that should give a new impulse

Everyone knows that to make the government back down and get this law withdrawn, the protest movement must be even stronger. Those who have been on strike, some for two, three or four weeks, must be joined by others. They say we are a “minority”. But the real minority is the handful of privileged, the bosses, the bourgeoisie and its politicians. They fear the force that mobilized workers would have.

So the successful demonstrations of June 14 must be a step for the movement against the Work law to reach a new milestone, to make the working class stronger against the arrogance of the employers and the government. This spring of 2016 must be the beginning.