Our monthly Tubeworker editorial meeting on 20 February heard a report from a comrade who’d recently visited France during the mass strike wave, as part of a delegation organised by Workers’ Liberty.
Workers in France have been striking against proposed pension reforms. We heard how strikes are organised via democratic assemblies in workplaces, which take decisions about whether to continue striking. We also discussed the effect of laws which require “minimum service levels” in industries like healthcare, and laws in other industries like transport aimed at reducing the ineffectiveness of strikes. Because French workers have a more militant culture, these laws are not as restrictive or effective as bosses would like them to be. This is a lesson for us, as the Tories attempt to impose similar laws here. Vigorous resistance can force the government to back down, or render the laws inoperable.
We also discussed some limitations of the movement in France, including its lack of a clear political alternative to the Macron government beyond the demand for the pension reforms to be scrapped. Mass strikes around industrial demands can be immensely powerful, but if the workers’ movement doesn’t pose an alternative programme for how society should be organised, we’re ultimately leaving the rule of profit unchallenged at the political level.