The government wanted to know our views on its pension reform. The workers’ answer has come in loud and clear: massive demonstrations throughout the country and record-breaking strikes at SNCF, RATP and in Education. December 5 was a show of strength from the world of work.
This day was a success because it mobilized all categories of employees: transport workers and teachers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, hospital workers and many private sector employees. Individually, in groups of ten, twenty or in procession, many private employees attended.
Private and public sector workers, workers from small and large shops, steel and agri-food companies, the chemical and automotive industries... have all expressed the need to fight together--because we are all being attacked by this pension reform that will force us to work longer for smaller pensions; and because we are all driven by the same anger. We must fight on!
Pension reform was the straw that broke the camel's back. It came after blocked wages, cut bonuses, understaffing and threats of dismissal. And we’re all in the same boat! We all suffer from pressures at work, continual speed-ups and constant restructuring, the politics of numbers. We’re subjected to them everywhere… at Michelin, in hospitals, in call centers, in Education, at Amazon, SNCF and RATP.
Whether you work in the public or private sector, the time for corporatism is over. The government and journalists insist on presenting railroad workers as privileged. And the Paris-based RATP bus driver is said to be better-off than the one in Le Havre. But if we play that little game, we‘ll all be losers because there’s alway someone who is paid less and exploited more. A permanent contract will be a “privilege” compared with a fixed-term contract and a worker with a fixed-term contract will be called “privileged” compared with someone who is unemployed, and so on...
Let’s ignore this blackmail and defend our common interests together. Together, we can win this battle!
Let’s take the money for pensions, salaries, jobs and public services where it is: in the pockets of Macron’s banker friends, the shareholders of the Stock Exchange companies, those who don’t have retirement problems or trouble making ends meet. They are rich and they are the truly privileged because the government showers them with gifts.
The government is under pressure. It doesn’t want the movement to grow and it’s already making massive attempts to defuse the situation.
Having repeatedly said that it’ll see the reform through, the government is now saying “we hear what you’re saying” and has put its arm around the union leaders’ shoulders to move them towards a social dialogue that will calm the rising protest.
Civil servants' salaries have been frozen for nearly a decade, but the government is suddenly promising raises to teachers. Who will believe that the government, which systematically destroys workers' rights and keeps saying that it is short of money has turned into Santa Claus?
To put an end to the strikers’ mobilization, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe may decide to push back the implementation date of the reform. In other words, today’s strikers wouldn’t be affected… but their children would! Who wants their children to have a life that’s worse than theirs? And this is the very same government that dares to lecture us on solidarity!
This week will be decisive. December 5 has given us an idea of the immense collective strength we have at our disposal. It has encouraged those who do not yet feel like going on a renewable strike, as well as those who have taken the plunge and have engaged in an arm-wrestling match with the government. If strikes multiply and intensify, if new demonstrators take to the streets, the government will have to back down, as Juppé did in 1995.
So, on Tuesday, let’s all join the strike and demonstrate. And on Wednesday and after, let's continue the fight until the Macron-Philippe reform is withdrawn.