Socialist Worker

Workers in France strike back as Emmanuel Macron attacks pensions

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2673

Workers say ‘defend our pensions’

Workers say ‘defend our pensions’ (Pic: Force Ouvriere/Twitter)


Strikes on the railways, in schools and many other sectors are set to sweep France on Tuesday against president Emmanuel Macron’s assault on pensions.

Called by the CGT and Solidaires union federations, hundreds of demonstrations are planned.

The feeling for resistance is growing again. Several groups of workers, including on the RATP Paris transport network, have struck powerfully in recent weeks.

Last Saturday three different demonstrations took place in Paris. One was against the pension assault called by the Force Ouvriere union federation which brought 20,000 on to the streets.

There was also a march of thousands calling for action over climate change and a Yellow Vest rally.

The police responded violently, deploying 7,500 members of the security forces in the capital.

Arrested

They fired tear gas and drove back protesters from streets around the Champs-Elysees and the Jardin du Luxembourg. At least 170 people were arrested.

In advance of the protests, Didier Lallement, the police chief in Paris, used sections of an anti-terrorism law of 2017 to restrict where people could gather and to carry out searches. This is the first time it has been used in this way.

But despite the authorities’ determination to keep them apart, at times the different groups united on the streets.

Alan, a teacher in Paris, told Socialist Worker, “The slogans about being in one struggle came closer to reality on Saturday. Environmentalists, Yellow Vests and some trade unionists mixing together against the same enemy.

“There are lots of discussions over tactics, but it was a big step forward.”

In Bordeaux demonstrations of Ford workers fighting plant closures, Yellow Vests and climate change protesters converged in the street. In Toulouse young activists who had protested over the climate on Friday returned to the streets to join with the Yellow Vests.

These are encouraging signs that the much-voiced call for “All together”—for unity between different sections of protesters—is becoming more of a reality.

Groups of climate activists, Yellow Vest collectives and independent media groups put out a joint call in early September to prove that “our speeches of unity are sincere” by having joint actions on the street.

Macron has tried to split ­resistance to his neoliberal rule by a renewed racist campaign.

Last week he told a meeting of his party’s MPs that it was time to confront a crucial issue in French politics and be “extremely firm in applying asylum rules”.


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