France: an important day of action

Submitted by cathy n on 21 September, 2017 - 3:47 Author: Arguments pour la lutte sociale

On 12 September a day of strikes and demonstrations was called in France to oppose new labour laws. This is an edited version of a longer report from Arguments pour la lutte sociale.

Macron spoke of “idlers” (then tried to row back, claiming he was talking about his predecessors); of “cynics”, etc.

Lots of the media has been peddling tragic, banal anti-strike tripe, and selling the lie that the 12 September rallied virtually no-one but the CGT and its die-hard “battalions”. But they are all kidding themselves, or appearing to; and this is not an expression of their strength, but of their fear.

The reality is that this was an important day of action: the first united social mobilisation against the Macron/Philippe/Gattaz executive.

It wasn’t just the “usual suspects”. Workers from a lot of workplaces in dispute, whether those disputes involved strikes or not, were in attendance. This was particularly the case throughout the west.

The demonstrations were joined by layers of militants who are the central organisers of the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires trade union federations. The attempt [by the FO leadership] to stop the FO trade union federation from taking part, and to break the united front failed: FO members were represented in the demonstrations as if the federation’s leadership had issued a formal call.

The leadership of the FO federation suffered a substantial political defeat, which the trade union’s democracy demanded be translated into mandates and representatives. This was supposed to be the last of the “CGT” days of action; but participants experienced it like the start, and it’s this feeling that counts.

This feeling came from the numbers involved. Many Parisian comrades estimate that the official figure of 60,000 given by [the CGT leader] was too low. In all, there were 400,000 to 500,000 demonstrators, and as many strikers. This mobilisation has brought the struggle for victory against Macron and the bosses into the deepest layers of the population, who are thinking, assimilating, and gathering their forces.

The CGT has called for another day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday 21 September, the day before the Council of Ministers adopts the labour laws. This will not be just another “day of action”, either, as the main union confederation has been forced to call for active opposition to the law.

But it is clear that the movement that is being built needs more: there will be a need for centralisation of the efforts against the Executive branch, and for generalising the movement, and there will be a need for political expression of the movement.

That is the political basis of an alternative to Macron.