By the Parti Révolutionnaire Communistes, France
May 4, 2023
“No pause or compromise: Withdrawal of the pension reform, wage increases… we will win them through struggle.”
For the past 3 months, the 12 days of demonstrations have mobilized between 1 and 3 million workers, unemployed, young people and pensioners, with a particularly high number of demonstrators in small and medium-sized towns. For several decades, no government has faced such a level of opposition and rejection.
May 1st was impressive, with 2.3 million demonstrators. This is the sign of an anger that does not fade, of a unwavering determination not to turn the page on a rejected reform [French government’s raising the retirement age from 62 to 64] . 94% of working people are still opposed to the reform and 65% of the population are in favor of a shutdown of the economy.
The watchword has not changed, neither pause, nor compromise: fight until withdrawal [of the pension reform]. 75% of of the public disapproves of Macron, rising more 3% in one week including 45% of the public that is very discontented with him. There is a a hatred and loathing of the President who was elected by only 38.52% of registered voters. There is an emotional and deep-seated rejection entrenched in one out of every two French people.
Meeting on Tuesday, the union coalition simply gave birth to a 14th mobilization on June 6, totally out of step with the anger expressed on May 1 by the 2.3 million demonstrators. The union coalition wants to attend the “cycle of consultations” announced by the government to “recall [its] refusal of the pension reform” but also to “work on common union coalition proposals […] in terms of wages, working conditions …” paving the way to the “social dialogue” much desired by the the powerful, employers and the reformist unions.
For all those who struggle, it is impossible to sit around a table to discuss with the government under pressure and act according to the parliamentary calendar and the tempo set by Macron and his government. Especially since the Prime Minister has laid out the roadmap of the government, at the Council of Ministers of April 23, 2023, which develops the priorities set by Macron. Bruno Lemaire [Macron’s Minister for the Economy] also announced his intentions and said “we are able to pass structural reforms for the country.” He announced “several billion in savings” for the 2024 budget and reaffirmed the goal of reducing the rate of public spending to 54% of GDP in 2027. To achieve this, social spending is the target.
The government is on the offensive for new attacks on workers’ rights. It also wants to speed up its project to make the RSA [ welfare] conditional on unpaid work, as well as the reform of vocational high schools to meet the needs of companies and provide them with unpaid work…. The authoritarian and repressive offensive is unleashed to stifle anger. France has just been criticized at the UN during the examination of the human rights situation on the repression. Liechtenstein has even asked for an independent investigation on the excesses of the repression. Countries have also intervened to denounce the government’s attacks on the rights of immigrants and the rights of women.
Major fact: the decline of the standard of living of the French is accelerating.
Inflation has reached 17% on food products, the highest ever, forcing more and more people to tighten their belts. 42% of the poorest French people have cut out a meal because of a lack of resources, a restriction that concerns all type: the vulnerable, such as students, pensioners, single mothers. The number of beneficiaries of the Secours Populaire and Restos du Coeur [charitable food banks] has increased by more than 22% in one year. In the building sector, building permits have dropped by 30% and construction starts by 13%.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimates that the galloping inflation will make more than 345 million people around the world face crisis levels of food insecurity in 2023. 43 million are on the verge of famine.
For the government, there is no question of increasing salaries, scholarships, unemployment benefits, the RSA, pensions and indexing them to prices. Macron carries out the policy dictated by the employers and inflation is a gold mine for the capitalists. According to the European Central Bank (ECB), the profit margins of European companies have fueled inflation. Some companies(1) have increased their prices, sometimes more than their costs at the expense of employees and consumers
The fundamental law of capitalism is the permanent search for maximum profit. In several European countries and in the world a wave of strikes is developing.
It has been a combative month of May: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Greece. Europe has not seen such a scenario of large simultaneous strikes in several countries for at least a decade. The anger is spreading. The class struggle is back for those who thought it had been buried. The awareness of wage earners that only the struggle will win social conquests has grown. The idea that only struggles that attack capital and its profits will make it possible to push it back is gaining ground, and the responsibility of capitalism is beginning to be questioned.
In France, the struggle has taken a step forward after the pension reform was forced through by Article 49.3 of the French Constitution [a constitutional ploy to bypass parliament] Spontaneous demonstrations have broken out with strike days conditioned by the parliamentary calendar. Actions and struggles for wages are taking place every day all over the country and in the private companies. This is the only way to obtain progress, as demonstrated by the winning demands
To make Macron back down, there is nothing to expect from the Constitutional Council, an institution carved out to serve the interests of capital. The fate reserved by the Constitutional Council for the referendum of shared initiative (RIP) shows this. Nor can anything be expected from the bill to repeal the pension reform tabled by the deputies of the LIOT group, which will be examined on June 8 in the National Assembly.
The economic and political situation raises enormous questions, and many people are looking for a solution that answers their concerns.
We created the Revolutionary Communist Party to lead the fight against capitalism and it is this fight that we want to continue until its overthrow. Join this fight.
(1) For example, the turnover of the 16 largest car manufacturers is 1868 billion, +18% in 1 year. The operating profit is 156.7 billion +15.7% (Renault + 58.5 Stellentis 31.7%) while sales are down 2.7%.