France: calls for general strike against Macron's reforms

Cuts to employer contributions, dismantling of the Code du travail (laws governing employment conditions), pensions reform: Macron’s government is there to complete the destruction of everything that workers have won. So militants in France are calling on workers to draw on the lessons of past struggles and launch a prolonged general strike to paralyse the economy.

Submitted by jef costello on September 9, 2017

French anarchist organisation Alternative Libertaire has called for action against the Macron government that is also available as a pdf leaflet.

40 years of Austerity
Faced with feeble growth, which hasn’t stopped bosses making large profits, governrment, both from the left and the right ( apart from the 81-82 ‘interlude’) have faithfully applied the bourgeoisie’s programme : Austerity. This is the name for policies which target all the gains that workers have won through struggle since the Liberation of France.

These unavoidably unpopular policies have meant that government alternates, almost automatically, between right and left, as voters put their faith into the promises of change. The repeated disappointment has ended up weakening the whole political system as seen with the rises in abstentions and votes for Le Pen, which has left the Fifth Republic devastated. Although the richest have profited from this period they are now worried that popular anger can no longer be channeled by voting. So the wisest strategists of the bourgeoisie invented Macron. Neither of the left, nor the right, nor even the centre, but modern !

Macron, the bourgeoisie’s trump card
Now he has been succesfully elected, Macron’s Mandate is to contain the social1 explosions and complete the destruction of social gains. Acts of resistance, strike days and massive demonstrations may not have forced the governments back, but they have put a brake on ultra-liberal2 policies. The suppression of employer contributions3 is the death of legal solidarity, starving public education of funding is the victory of private education from primary-level all the way to university, the destruction of the Code du Travail and of unions rights is the atomisation of workers ; the pensions reform expected in January 2018 will have terrible effects. And the introduction of state-of-emergency measures into everyday law is the aggravation of repression against union members, eco-militants, and those involved with migrant solidarity

Enough, or even more ?
Macron is already collapsing in the polls and the promised political transparency has already become the secretive rule by decree ! Never has the term « rentrée sociale » been truer4 . We need to guarantee the success of the protest at the MEDEF5 summer school and of the strike day on the 12h of September.
We also need to learn the lessons of past struggles, the unions that are still in the fight are preparing for strike days in September. These three isolated days are better than nothing but are not enough to win. Even if it means losing three days’ pay, unions and workers must call for three days of General Strike. Three days of shutting down the economy, industrial zones and commercial areas ; schools and universities. This would mean that on the morning of the fourth day we would be in a better position to decide what happens next and how to increase the anti-capitalist forces!

  • 1In French ‘social’ is used to describe something belonging to society in general, not the bosses, so is often used where we would use ‘workers’ but can also encompass unemployed, claimants, pensioners etc.
  • 2Liberal in French describes the right-wing, referring to policies of free trade and deregulation
  • 3It depends upon income level but employer contributions to unemployment, social security, healthcare etc are much higher in France that in the US or the UK. Of the cost of my salary to my employer 45 % is my take-home, 10 % ‘I’ pay directly in contributions and 45 % is paid directly as contributions.
  • 4 « La rentrée » means the start of the school year, but can also mean the re-opening of parliament or anything that is opened after a holiday
  • 5French equivalent of the Confederation of British Industry