The workers’ no-confidence motion is strike action!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
March 20, 2023

On Thursday, March 16, the government used Article 49.31 of the constitution to raise retirement age to 64. Without the slightest hesitation, Macron trampled on the millions of workers who have been opposing his pension reform for over two months now. So, there is definitely reason to be angry!

But there’s also reason to feel good about expressing ourselves and putting up a fight because Macron’s use of Article 49.3 is a sign of weakness on his part. He had to force the law through because despite all the bargaining with right-wing representatives, he wasn’t able to secure a majority to vote in favor of the law.

And that was first off a result of the strikes and demonstrations. The right-wing representatives who were missing to pass the law weren’t struck by grace. They could feel the strength of the demonstrations that have been going on in their constituencies over the past two months. With that in mind, we must continue to use the arms of the working class, that is keep striking and demonstrating!

There’s nothing to expect from Parliament. Following the built-up false suspense surrounding a proper vote in the National Assembly, we got the built-up false suspense surrounding the vote of no-confidence. All day Monday, March 20, representatives from both the NUPES (New People’s Ecologist and Social Union) and RN (National Rally) made us believe that right-wing representatives could be the workers’ saviors by supporting the no-confidence vote. What’s next? More suspense over a possible referendum that could be organized in the next few months?

Let’s not be fooled by such political antics! Since Thursday, March 16, there have been a number of rallies in many towns and cities. Some work sectors on strike started indefinite strike action. Others took action so that the strikes and demonstrations called for by the trade unions on Thursday, March 23 would be as massive as possible. Let’s all get involved, in even greater numbers!

The law has passed but it’s up to workers to see that it is never put into effect. Besides being a setback for Macron, it would also be an encouragement for all of us to fight for better wages and working conditions, and against the sacrifices that the government and bosses of big corporations have imposed on us over the past few years.

This attack on our pensions is one among many others, all of which are just as serious. If the demonstrations are as massive as they are it’s because we’ve had enough. Young people whose situation is becoming more and more precarious have had enough. The elderly who have been worked to the bone and will only get a tiny pension have had enough. All workers who are facing soaring food and energy prices have had enough.

All those who believed in the promises of politicians proclaiming better tomorrows while everything is getting worse, especially the economic war that may lead to a third world war, have had enough. People are fed up in general and they have started to show it through the protests against the pension reform.

Together, we have the strength to weigh on politicians and that strength is in our number. Strikes are what make an impact. Once we are determined enough to massively go on strike, not only will we make the government pay, we’ll also make the big bosses pay.

We will truly be feared and all of our demands will be met when the strike spreads to major companies and the profit-making machine comes to a halt. We will shift the balance of power in our favor when the bosses of big companies realize that the workers are no longer willing to obey and remain silent.

For the moment, workers are on strike in only a few sectors. There are strikes in the public sector at SNCF (rail), EDF (electricity) and in education. In the private sector, workers are on strike in oil refineries run by Total and at incinerators run by Suez.

It has been said that the garbage collectors' strike in Paris was due to the fact that they are public employees. This is a lie, because garbage collectors from the private company Pizzorno are also on strike, as are other such companies in different regions. This is proof that the private sector can and must play a role.

Garbage collectors are poorly paid and looked down on, but they have the energy and dignity to earn respect and they are setting an example. So, in the private and public sectors, let's show the minority of privileged people who have their eyes riveted on the stock market that they will have to deal with workers who are ready to join together and take action!

Everywhere, let’s get talking and let’s get organized to join the strike! Let’s gather together in millions in the streets! Whatever the government does can be undone by workers going on strike!

Nathalie ARTHAUD

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 no-confidence is tabled within 24 hours.