The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Strike:
Workers’ Weapon

Mar 20, 2023

This article is translated from the March 17 issue, #2850 of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Millions of workers now have participated in at least one protest, walkout, or day-long strike since the movement to defend retirement began.

Workers participating are from the public and private sectors, from big and small companies, and come from Paris and from the provinces. Some are permanent workers. Others are temporary workers or interns. For many, this is their first social struggle. Discussions multiply in workshops and offices. Political consciousness rises everywhere. The attack on retirement is the last straw for everyone, after soaring prices and wage freezes.

But to push back the government and big business, many workers feel that isolated days of action are not enough, and that it’s necessary to ratchet the movement up a notch. But by doing what? Some workers including trash collectors, railway workers, and refinery workers have decided to stay out on strike since March 7. Aiming for a tough and determined strike in all sectors of the economy is the way forward. This is what big business fears the most. The evidence is that some bosses like Stellantis and Continental furloughed many of their factories on March 7 and even the following days.

Workers are indeed a colossal force. It’s the same in metalworking, retail, oil refining, cleaning, banking, hospitals, and transport. The same whether they are laborers, salaried, technicians, engineers, drivers, IT specialists, cashiers, secretaries, nurse assistants, and so on! Workers are the basis of the functioning of even the smallest gear in society.

The strength of a general strike is not that it blocks the economy. It is above all that it blocks the profit-making machine. It hits big business directly in the wallet, which is what hits them hardest. And big strikes free the workers from the workstations to which they are usually physically and even mentally chained all the livelong week. A big strike gives them time to organize each other, to discuss among themselves, and to question everything that is wrong in society. With a general strike, everything becomes possible!

If the bosses’ power is owning companies, workers’ power is running them. They are the vast majority of society. They are 10,000 times stronger than the tiny minority of capitalists when they all throw themselves into battle and strike together.