French strikers defy bosses

Submitted by Matthew on 15 June, 2016 - 8:42

Lutte Ouvrière (editorial 12 June)

The government, the bosses and the media ... have used the victims of the floods as part of their grotesque moral blackmail [in a fight over France’s new labour laws]. They used Euro 2016 to demand that the strikes stop. And, in spite of everything, the SNCF [French rail] strike is carrying on, the refuse workers are sticking to their guns, and Air France pilots have carried out their threat to strike. They are right to do so.

Are the government and the bosses observing a truce in their offensive against the workers? Clearly not — so why should the workers stop fighting back? We are constantly being lectured about the image of France, and how Euro 2016 is supposed to be a party. That’s a good one. You can be a football fan, you can even be a victim of the floods, without accepting the demolition of the labour code! Are workers’ rights worth nothing? Euro 2016 lasts a month, but we will suffer the effects of this law for years if it goes through. Workers have been making sacrifices for years. They always have to be more flexible, to work more, to put themselves out, to commit 110% over and over again.

And why? So that shareholders and CEOs can line their pockets. Hollande and Valls bear full responsibility for what is happening. They are accusing the opponents of the El Khomri law of being fanatics, a minority, irresponsible. But who is the minority here? Who is insisting on imposing a bill which has been rejected by the mass of the population and almost all workers?

As for irresponsibility, it means pushing back the condition of workers by years! If the bosses can, by means of a workplace agreement, waive rights which are written into collective conventions, then there will be more attacks on working conditions. If it becomes easier to sack people, there will be more sackings and more precarious work. Job cuts and attacks on pay and conditions make up the daily reality of millions of workers. From rail workers to air pilots, from Peugeot workers to workers at Michelin, the offensive is the same: competitive plans which oblige workers to work more, with more flexibility and fewer benefits, or else wage cuts, like at Air France. Now is not the time to be silent, and we have to continue to denounce this latest attack by the government — as we have been doing for months.

The national demonstration organised in Paris on 14 June, and the many initiatives which are being taken locally, are an opportunity to show the massive rejection of the El Khomri law. For as long as the mobilisation continues, nothing is decided. The mobilisation has drawn on a more general loss of patience, a broader anger against the general offensive of the bosses, and the regression we are seeing across society. The proof of this is in the variety of sectors which have joined the mobilisation, the youth, public and private sector workers, workers in large workers, and in small and medium enterprises. It shows the will of a part of the working class to turn the tables on the bosses.

It is still a minority. But in all the workplaces across the country, workers are organising, calling others to come out, striking, and demonstrating. This is not the last attack from the bosses that workers will face, and if they take up the habit of resisting, then things will start going differently. The government and the bosses are counting on the movement running out of steam. Some workers have already spent 8, 10, 20 days on strike, many rail or refinery workers have already lost a month's salary in the strike. So it’s a long-distance struggle. But the labour movement has resources, and it has forces in reserve. Let’s show that our anger is still intact, and that we will not allow the bosses to dictate their laws to us!

Lutte Ouvrière

Add new comment

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.