The Right to Work campaign is involved in important initiatives this week that will help stoke the spirit of resistance in Britain.
It has organised a tour by Julien Sergère, a member of the CGT union in Paris – an eyewitness and participant in the French strikes. Julien will also be speaking at the Right to Work Scotland conference in Glasgow on Saturday.
Julien told Socialist Worker how the movement took off in the school he teaches at on the outskirts of Paris:
“On 12 October there were 3.5 million people in the streets – more than ever before.
“We couldn’t continue as if nothing had happened. We met with colleagues at eight the next morning and voted for a rolling strike.
“We met every day from then on to vote on what to do next. We went to talk to colleagues elsewhere and a network of schools taking action developed.
“We demonstrated together and then went to see other sectors that were on strike – local government workers, railway workers and people working in the private sector on the local industrial estate.
“Those on strike went to other groups to persuade them to join us. We tried to set up a strike committee for the whole town.
“Our school was out for five days. We tried to spread the movement but our union leaders offered no direction – there was no call for a general strike to take things further.
“We tried to do that at a rank and file level and it worked for a few days, but people started to feel isolated when they saw that the call for a general strike was not being picked up by the union leaders.
“It’s quite difficult to fight against them and the different political parties as well – the only party that was calling for a rolling general strike was the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA).
“The union leaders have broken the momentum of the movement but there’s still an enormous groundswell of opposition to Nicolas Sarkozy’s neoliberal policies. People have lifted their heads up these past two months and that’s very good news.
“Over the next two years we can expect big struggles because a real class consciousness has re-emerged and this will not disappear. Sarkozy cannot claim this is a victory.”
Julien will be appearing alongside an impressive range of speakers at the Scottish Right to Work conference.
Also speaking will be Labour MP Katy Clark, SNP MSP Sandra White, Labour MSP Pauline McNeill and Dave Moxham, the deputy general secretary of the Scottish TUC.
Join the Right to Work Scotland conference. Saturday 13 November, 10am, Renfield St Stephens Centre, Bath Street, Glasgow. Tickets £5/£3. Phone 07584 138 852.
Eyewitness to the French strikes: How can we stop the Tory cuts? Bristol: Friday 12 November, Easton Community Centre, Kilburn St, BS5 6AW. Scottish RtW conference, Saturday 13 November. Manchester: Sunday 14 November, 2pm, Coal Store Room, People’s History Museum, Left Bank in Spinningfields. Go to www.righttowork.org.uk