In opposition to retirement at 64, all trade union confederations are calling for March 7 to be “a black day in companies, public administrations and services, shops, education establishments, transport”. Macron has left us no choice – we have to participate.
Even though the attack on pensions has sparked massive demonstrations, for the government it’s business as usual in parliament. With the right wing’s help, the government should be able to have the Senate vote its counter-reform. If they run into a problem, they can just whip out Article 49.31.
Those in government claim to represent the people. But they don’t care whether or not workers, cashiers and warehouse workers, nurses and healthcare aides, home helps and home support workers can keep going until they’re 64 years old. They don’t care how many of them will finish their working life in the unemployment line, on disability or on RSA2.
And they lie to us. For weeks, the government lied about ensuring a minimum retirement pension of 1,200 euros. Labor Minister Dussopt has now admitted that this measure would only apply to between 10,000 and 20,000 people.
Macron’s only aim right from the start: take money from the workers’ pockets to continue handing it out to big business. After reducing housing aid and unemployment rights, after tightening the belt on public health, education and transport, it’s time to take money from retirement pensions.
Retirement fund deficit is 12 to 20 billion euros per year and is serving as an excuse to steal two years’ worth of pensions from workers. A quick comparison: the state awards 160 billion euros a year in exemptions to companies. This year, it even added 50 billion in aid “to relaunch the economy”. The military budget increase means spending 14 billion more every year… for seven years.
When billions have to be found to help big business, it’s done immediately. And it’s not as if big business has no money because, in 2022, Total made nearly 20 billion in profits, Stellantis almost 17 billion and CMA-CGM3 23 billion, etc.
And it’s the same thing with inflation. The government finds it perfectly normal for industrialists to raise their prices. It didn’t lift a finger against Total or other speculators or war profiteers who sent the prices of energy and certain raw materials skyrocketing. And now we have food prices that have gone up by 20, 30 or even 50 %! But when workers demand that their wages follow price increases, government and bosses smugly explain that it would be dangerous for the economy.
If we don’t claim what is owed to us, we’ll be crushed by the iron heel of profit-seeking and condemned to watch billions accumulate at one end of society while more and more workers are forced to go to the Restos du Coeur4. So we need to fight and to do so knowing that we can win.
Since January 19, the movement has drawn its strength from the mass participation of workers from both the private and public sectors, from both large and small companies. Even the right-wing’s attempt to divide us by drawing attention to “special retirement regimes” fell flat because it’s so obvious that the real privileged people are the capitalists and the parasitic major shareholders!
We have to continue to mobilize and step up our game.
We keep hearing “the country must be blockaded”. But it’s an illusion to think that rail and refinery workers alone can win the fight.
They do of course have a role to play in bringing people into the fight and they can put a great deal of pressure on the government. But it’s with the workers in the private sector that we can, all together, put big business under pressure if the strikes spread.
In order to win, our side needs to mobilize everyone and use the weapons that have worked in the past: strikes, mass demonstrations and the occupation of companies.
United and determined, we can not only stop this attack but also start an offensive on the rest: inflation, wages, working conditions and all the threats that capitalism holds over us.
As many of us as possible must strike on Tuesday, March 7 and let’s use the awareness of our collective strength to continue until the government backs down!
1 Article 49 paragraph 3 (49.3) can be used during the examination of a bill in public session in the National Assembly to allow the bill to be adopted without a vote. If the Prime Minister makes that decision, it means that the discussion of the bill is immediately suspended and the text is considered to be adopted without being submitted to a vote. It can only be stopped if a motion of censure is tabled within 24 hours.
2 RSA (Revenu de Solidarité Active): an allowance paid to people who have no income at all, whether or not they are able to work. The amount is currently around 600 euros per month for a single person. Although non-taxable, there are a number of conditions attached.
3 CMA CGM S.A. : a French container transportation and shipping company.
4 The Restaurants du Cœur, commonly known as the Restos du Cœur, is a French charity, whose main activity is the distribution of food packages and hot meals.