The current wave of industrial disputes in France takes place less than six months after the election of the right wing Nicolas Sarkozy as president. It shows that the French working class is still up for a fight, despite its recent election defeat.
Feeding the discontent is a widening gap between Sarkozy’s promises and the everyday reality of people’s lives. Sarkozy’s slogan “work more to earn more” has turned out to be a false promise – people are working harder, but they certainly aren’t earning any more.
Sarkozy likes to think of himself as a French Margaret Thatcher. But he is unlikely to defeat railway workers in the same crushing way that Thatcher defeated the miners in Britain during the 1980s.
The Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) has been deeply involved with the movement, as both a network of grassroots activists and as a political party.
We have tried to broaden out the strikes and demos, linking the railway workers’ struggle to that of all workers against pensions “reforms”.
During this struggle we have had to confront not just the government, right wing parties and the bosses, but also the “left wing” that have accepted neoliberal ideas.
The parliamentary left has been unable to give any leadership to the movement because it shares the right’s analysis and proposes the same “solutions” as them. That’s why so many people think it’s time for a genuine left political answer.
The LCR is committed to the project of building a new broad anti-capitalist party in France, one that is involved in and supports the social resistance against the neoliberal offensive.
This party would regroup all those who want a radical change in society – political currents, activist groups and individuals who no longer trust the Socialist Party or its allies, such as the Communists and the Greens.
Olivier Besancenot, postal worker and the LCR’s presidential candidate earlier this year, has launched an appeal to create this new political party.
Meetings will take place in towns and workplaces all across France to debate this idea. The LCR’s national congress will meet at the end of January to decide.
This battle for a new anti?capitalist party is not just a French concern. In every country, the left has to find its own way to reorganise and build alternatives to the neoliberal parties.
Because now more and more people agree with our slogan – “Our lives are more valuable than their profits!”
François Duval is a leading member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire