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France: The workers must take the struggle into their own hands!

by ICP Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007 at 6:16 PM

Seldom has trade-union unity been so great in the country: almost all the trade unions, including the most collaborationist, call for an indefinite strike at the SNCF, because of the determination and combativeness of the workers! But what objective does this united leadership set for the struggle to come? In 1995 the objective was clear: total withdrawal of the Prime Minister Juppé plan against the pensions. Today what is the objective of this trade-union unity? Total withdrawal of the new attack against the pensions?

Not at all! The pretext is that this claim would automatically involve the rupture with organizations like the CFDT union which after having ceded the end of the 37.5 annual instalments (years of service requirements for full pension) for the whole Public Service yesterday, wants to do the same for the employees enjoying the special pension plans.

The objective is the negotiation of the modalities of the ‘reform’, not its total withdrawal! As Bernard Thibault (secretary-general of the main union, the “communist” led CGT) repeated on 11/11 on Radio France Inter (for the CGT, what creates problems is not "the principle" of the reform, but the absence of negotiation on its modalities!) after having asked unsuccessfully for negotiations with the minister of Labour, Xavier Darcos. He also stated that the fight could have been started in September, but that CGT had shown "responsibility" in order to leave open the possibility of the government negotiating: in fact that left 2 months for the government to prepare itself to confront the strike.

The trade-union “leaders” thus appeal to the workers to fight to negotiate the type of sauce with which they will be eaten ! ! !

The independent organization of proletarians in struggle: the only means of countering the trade-union defeatism!

Faced with this defeatist attitude the government has a great opportunity to play the swashbuckler by announcing its determination that nothing essential is to be yielded. Sarkozy trumpeted on Nov.9 that he will not retreat as others have done (read: Chirac in ‘95), while fulminating about the spectrum of "violence" and "manipulation" (as if the initial violence did not consist in the aggravation of capitalist exploitation which he intends to carry out, and as if the first manipulators were not the entire media under the orders of the capitalists!) ; Prime Minister Francois Fillon affirmed in the “Journal du Dimanche” of Nov. 11 that he "is not afraid" of the strikes. On this point the Minister of the Interior Alliot Marie explained on Nov. 9: "November is traditionally a month demands are put forward". "Let’s approach this calmly. The big demonstrations are marshalled by the trade unions which have a sense of their responsibilities and don’t want outbursts any more than us”.

The government thus counts on the "responsible" trade-union directors (read: collaborationists) "to marshal" the movement, i.e. to sterilize it and exhaust it as they did in the past.

But the government and the employers are actually alarmed; the president of the SNCF (railways) states that the renewed strike is an "adventure" and that "one does not know where it can go" (who knows? the strikers could win!). Sarkozy himself is obliged to acknowledge that he is "quite conscious of French social and political history ", a trade unionist having said to him, it appears, "We always made them move back, we will continue".

But in order that the struggle be victorious, it is necessary in the first place that it is not betrayed by those who direct it. If we want to avoid a repetition of the failure of the fight on the pensions (retirements) in 2003, a repetition of the halting of the movement carried out last year against the CPE, it is necessary that the leadership of the struggle is not in the same hands which sabotaged these struggles yesterday!

–The only guarantee is for the workers to take these struggles into their own hands. Twenty years ago the railwaymen had been organized in co-ordinating committees (“coordinations”) which carried out and organized the fight to avoid the sabotage of the trade-union leaders; in spring the workers of Airbus of Nantes and Saint Nazaire organized themselves in coordination and strike committees to do the same thing: this is the road that must be followed if we want to avoid a new treason!

–The election of strike committees by general assemblies of workers, the coordination of strike committees in a central strike committee directing the struggle on clear demands for the defense of proletarian interests and which alone has ability to negotiate, which would at the same time make it possible to enlist the maximum number of workers in the struggle, whether or not they are unionized, by avoiding the divisions maintained by the competition between the various trade-union/”boutiques” while protecting themselves from their inevitable treason!

The attack against the special retirement plans is only the prelude to vaster and more generalized attacks against all workers and which have been overtly proclaimed. The struggle of these particular employees is thus in the general interests of all workers. Against the propaganda of the media to rally the "service users" against the strikers, it is necessary to oppose the organization of the class solidarity of all proletarians against the capitalists and their State. Above and beyond the current struggle, these are all the workers of this country which, like those of nearby countries subject to the same attacks, must prepare themselves in the next struggles to defend themselves against the capitalists, while returning to the methods and the means of the class struggle!



You don’t not negotiate the capitalist attacks, You fight them!

Unity in struggle of all workers, French or immigrants, from the public or private sector!

International Communist Party 11/12/2007

Correspondence:

Editions Programme, 3 rue Basse Combalot, 69007 Lyon (France)

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