Jun 20, 2005
On May 29, French voters resoundingly rejected a proposed constitution for the European Union. This vote was widely seen as a vote against the policies of French President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who had carried out numerous attacks on workers.
In response, Chirac got rid of Raffarin and appointed a new Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, who immediately announced more attacks against the working class. The following article from the June 17 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), a revolutionary workers organization in France, lays out the situation in front of the French working class.
The new government of Villepin-Sarkozy doesn't represent any change from that of Raffarin. Its first measures are gifts for the bosses and blows for the workers.
Its "new hiring contract" delivers manpower to the bosses that can be laid off at any time. Businesses can now lay off workers over age 50 without paying a financial penalty. Another measure undercuts the bosses' obligations to union rights. Employers no longer have to pay their share of Social Security contributions when workers are paid the minimum wage.
These measures, cynically titled "the battle for jobs," make existing jobs more insecure....
After the referendum, some workers said, "they have to take into account the importance of the No vote." But, despite the lies of politicians, the government doesn't obey the ballot box. It obeys the big bosses....
We had to vote NO for our own dignity. We had to say NO to the Constitution, to Chirac-Raffarin and their policies.... But we can't expect to get more from this vote than it can give.
The blows of the bosses and government can only be stopped by the determination of workers to fight back. The economy functions only thanks to workers who have the power to stop the profit engine.
The CGT (General Confederation of Labor) calls for a day of mobilization on June 21. The other union federations are refusing to join in. But all workers need to see that this day is really successful. There should be as many work stoppages as possible – strikes and demonstrations to show that we are not resigned to taking yet more blows.
One day of mobilization, even if it is successful, certainly won't be enough to make the bosses and the government retreat. But it can show there are more and more workers who don't believe in Santa Claus. It can show workers understand that only our struggles can force the bosses to hire more workers and raise everyone's wages.