Sep 13, 2010
The following was an editorial in the September 10 issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers organization of that name active in France. Workers in the U.S., facing the same kind of attacks, can rejoice to see others begin a fight that can spread.
The success of the September 7th day of strikes and demonstrations is the proof that the working class rejects the pretended “reform” of pensions....
The participation in the demonstrations was everywhere more massive than on June 24th. Along with state workers, the workers in private businesses were widely present, as well as a number of youth, the unemployed and retirees. It was a cry of indignation by the whole working class against the measures on pensions and, more generally, against the anti-worker policy of the government.
No one can be so naive as to believe that this one day, despite the clear expression of the will of the workers, will be enough to make the government retreat.
For several months, the servants of Big Capital in the government, the media and among economists, have churned out garbage about the need to raise the retirement age and increase the number of years that workers have to work. The bosses’ propagandists, who in their entire life have never done a bit of work with their hands, explain that workers on an auto assembly line, construction workers and supermarket checkers, who are worn down and tired at age 60, can work beyond 60!
While they repeat that it’s necessary for old workers to work longer, hundreds of thousands of youth, more than a quarter of the youth seeking work, can’t find a job. And when they have one, it’s only as a temporary worker, with no job security and poorly paid.
The true aim of the government isn’t to give work to the old, nor to the young. It’s to shake down the workers, by reducing what they get in pensions.
This attack is one among many others, some coming from the government, others from the bosses themselves: freezing wages, speedup, increased layoffs, an increase in deductions for health care and even a reduction in benefits, electric and gas increases and a thousand other outrages, big and small. Public services, schools, hospitals, public transit and postal delivery are all falling to pieces, which is another form of serious attack against working people.
Why are they making all these attacks against the workers, against those who produce the riches of this country, against the poor? In order that the profits of the big capitalist businesses can be restored back to their previous level, despite the crisis of their economy. Profits of the 400 biggest businesses have increased by 86% over last year!
Growing profits serve only to fatten the biggest stockholders. While hundreds of thousands of workers’ families struck by unemployment fall into misery, the billionaire Liliane Bettencourt, who got rich by exploiting L’Oreal’s packers, buys up an island in the tropics and gets paid by government ministers to do it.
It’s necessary, then, to make the government and bosses retreat. It is possible. The French government had to retreat in 1995 and again in 2006. If they had to retreat, it wasn’t due to one day of protests, but because the succession of strikes, demonstrations and strong actions testified to a movement which generalized and whose development they feared they couldn’t control.
The success of September 7th is just the beginning. It’s necessary that the big bosses, that the government, feel that we’re not done with that and that we won’t be content until we win.