France: the second round was also lost by the government

On Tuesday, January 31, a new general strike with mobilization shook the whole of France. It is the second massive day of struggle against the anti-retirement reform that President Emmanuel Macron intends to impose. The challenges to win this difficult struggle.

By Pablo Vasco, from Paris

The CGT raised the turnout for the mobilizations from two million nationwide on January 19 to 2.8 million on January 31. But the official figures themselves do not leave much room for controversy. The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who on the 19th reported 1,120,000 mobilized people, now had to acknowledge more than 1,270,000. That is, more than the previous time. In Paris, half a million of us marched for several hours from Place d’Italie to Place Vauban.

In less than two weeks, and despite the fact that Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne affirmed that retirement at 64 years “is no longer negotiable,” despite the intimidating police deployment and despite the vacillations of the bureaucracy of the central unions of the Inter-union [1], the anti-reform movement clearly gained strength.

An important piece of information is the high level of popular mobilization that took place in small and medium-sized cities in the provinces, which expresses a strong rejection of the reform by the so-called “deep France,” which, unlike Paris and other big cities, is usually calmer. Even without being massive, the previous assemblies, the blockades in several secondary schools and the student columns in the demonstrations also showed that the involvement of the youth is growing.

It is possible to beat Macron and the bosses

Regarding the strike, participation rates continue to show strong inequalities. The workers of all public transport (subway, buses and suburban, interurban and high-speed trains), of oil refineries and of national education once again had high compliance. In contrast, in other sectors it was undoubtedly lower. The discounts of wages for the days of unemployment, plus a union leadership that exerts “pressure” but does not aim to defeat the reform, generate logical doubts among the workers.

Last night, after the marches, the Intersindical announced two new strike and mobilization dates for the next few days: Tuesday 7 and Saturday 11 February. “The government must listen to the massive rejection of this project and withdraw it,” they said in their press release. But some unions went further. The refinery workers of the CGT-Petrol, for example, plan to strike on the 6th, 7th and 8th.

To win this transcendental struggle, the rank and file must take the fight into their own hands in each work sector, through general assemblies and also working for the interprofessional coordination of the various sectors. There, they could debate and vote on a plan of struggle until the final withdrawal of the reform. Likewise, the demand for an immediate salary increase should be incorporated into the struggle’s program. With these reinsurances, there is a chance of victory against Macron and the capitalists.

Within this framework, the revolutionary wing of the NPA, of which the ISL comrades in France are militants, enthusiastically prepares the event on Wednesday, February 8, at La Bellevilloise, in Paris.

[1] CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Unsa, Solidaires, FSU.