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May 30, 2023

Let’s Do It Like France! Strikes and Mass Protests Against Macron Continue

March 29, 2023

Strikes and protests against the Macron government have been going on for months in France. The protests began in January against a pension “reform” that aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, but soon went far beyond this simple demand: today the mass mobilizations have as their aim the fall of Macron and his government.

By PdAC, Italy

Since January there have been eight days of national strike; the one with the highest participation was on March 23. It took place the day after Macron’s authoritarian act, whereby he made use of article 49.3 of the Constitution, which permitted him  to push through the reform by bypassing the National Assembly.

The reaction of the French masses was historic: on March 23, millions of workers and students took to the streets in all the cities of France (900,000 in Paris alone), organizing barricades and self-defense against police repression (which in many cases was forced to retreat). In Paris, the Charles de Gaulle airport and the Gare de Lyon train station were blocked for hours. Some cities, town halls ,and municipalities were stormed (in Bordeaux, the Palais Municipal was set on fire). March 28 was also an intense day of struggle, with heavy clashes, particularly in Paris.

Above all, many sectors of workers and many factories have decided autonomously to organize prolonged strikes, which have happened in several sectors including in the transport sector (railway workers are one of the most combative sectors, and unfortunately a railway worker of Sud Rail lost an eye due to repression), in refineries, in companies in the energy sector, and in public sanitation. Paris and other cities are overrun by garbage due to the indefinite strike of  sanitation workers. Hundreds of schools and universities are also occupied.

The big national strike days have been organized jointly by all the French trade unions, the so-called “inter-unions,” which bring together the confederal and rank-and-file unions (Solidaires and others). While in comparison with the Italian trade union leaderships, the French ones are setting a positive example, for instance, the CGIL invited Meloni to speak at its Congress and the rank-and-file unions often refuse to proclaim unitary strikes with the confederals. At the same time, they operate within a set of strictures which risk weakening the protest and leading it to a dead-end. The “inter-union,” which includes the national leadership of the CGT, instead of actively supporting the extended strike actions decided by sectors of its own rank and file, proclaiming, as would be necessary, a prolonged general strike, has limited itself to calling individual and isolated “days of action,” with strikes and demonstrations at variable intervals. After March 23, the conditions were in place for a disruptive and successful prolonged action, capable of breaking Macron, the government, and the bosses. Instead, simple strike days were again chosen (March 28 and April 6). Unfortunately this mode of action isolates and stifles courageous extended strike actions.

The militants of the International Workers’ League-Fourth International in France are active in the struggle to advance the organization of struggle committees that can bypass the bureaucratic leaderships and build a big extended strike action until Macron and the government is overthrown! And, at the same time, they are working to build the revolutionary political leadership without which it is impossible to carry the struggle to victory.

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