Blog post

A General Struggle Against Macron

"We must affirm another societal project, which begins with getting rid of Macron and his policies."

Verso Books 4 December 2019

Photo credit: Red / Babar photo library

Tomorrow, Thursday 5 December, will start would seems like will be a major mobilization against the Macron government’s plans to “reform” the pension system. The strikes and demonstrations – across different sectors – are causing trepidation in establishment ranks due the possibility of them spreading, consolidating and expressing a whole range of forms of social discontent, including many that were seen in the gilets jaunes movement. Are we on the brink of a new counteroffensive from below, as in 1995 and 2006? Below we reproduce a text – originally published here - from the most combative sectors.

To force the government back on pensions, a single day’s strike limited to a few sectors will not be enough. Workers, yellow vests, local residents, unemployed... what is needed is a comprehensive movement and a general strike until the reform is withdrawn.

One year after the start of the yellow vest movement, Macron persists in ignoring the anger that is rising everywhere: teachers, emergency workers, students against precariousness, young people for the climate, workers and inhabitants of the Rouen region where there was a major industrial accident at the Lubrizol factory... The ecological disaster, suicides in the school system, at the SNCF and the postal service, intolerable working conditions in hospitals, the explosion of subcontracting, precarious contracts and the exploitation of undocumented migrants... More than ever, this system is ruining humanity and the environment. With pension reform and ever-increasing repression, the government is challenging the entire world of labour, the working classes and youth.

Behind a discourse of universality and equity, this reform aims to destroy our pension system based on solidarity and to eliminate compensation for strenuous jobs. With this reform, people will need either to work until exhaustion, or to leave with a miserable retirement. For women, the impact will be all the greater because of wage inequalities, part-time work and career breaks. With the ‘grandfather’ clause, [1] the government has sought to make young people bear the burden. And in any case, pension levels will no longer be guaranteed, but determined each year by a committee of experts! After eighteen months of ‘consultation’, the project is clear and must be fought as a real social regression, with a clear slogan: no amendment or negotiation, total withdrawal of the pension reform! Negotiations are nothing but smoke and mirrors and serve only to divide.

It is in this context that the workers of the Paris transport network (RATP) succeeded in their very strong mobilization of 13 September against the pension reform. With stoppages between 90 per cent and 100 per cent depending on the service, this day showed how effective a strike is when massively followed. But above all, it facilitated a sequel, that of an unlimited strike from 5 December.

If this mobilization remains sectoral, it will not be enough and the government will try to find a partial arrangement, as was the case with truckers and refineries in 2016. In this context, the fact that many unions and federations have joined the call for an unlimited strike from 5 December is good news. On 3 November, the Yellow Vest Assembly meeting in Montpellier issued a call to build the movement and join it from 5 December: by striking, occupying roundabouts and blockade actions. At the national level, the CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires and youth organizations are calling for a strike on the 5th. To push the government back, a single day of strike or even a renewable strike limited to a few sectors will not be enough. Rather than leapfrogged or sectoral strike days, what we need is a global movement. All our structures must throw themselves into this battle by preparing now for a coordinated and renewable strike starting on 5 December, leading to a general strike until the reform is withdrawn.

Workers of all kinds, precarious, undocumented or unemployed, working-class communities, young people, victims of health disasters such as Lubrizol – we are all affected by the attacks carried out by the government and employers. What they are seeking to establish is a new social project, by breaking up social security and education, by privatizing the public sector, by racist and repressive policies, even by way of the ecological disaster that is looming. We must affirm another societal project, which begins with getting rid of Macron and his policies.

It is our future that is at stake. That is why, to ensure the success of this action, it is essential to organize general assemblies wherever possible, to mobilize and remain in control of our movement. We, activists in trade unions, political groups and voluntary organizations across different sectors, yellow vests, activists from working-class neighbourhoods, women and LGBTIs in the fight for equality, young people committed to the climate, are today signatories to this platform: from 5 December we need to go forward all together, on strike and determined!

- published by Liberation.

Translated by David Fernbach.

Initial signatories: Nassima Ait Ziane (CGT RATP), Norman Ajari (philosopher), Pierre Alferi (writer), Romain Altmann (secretary general, Info’Com CGT), Norman Ajari (philosopher), Clément Allochon (SUD-Rail technicentre Châtillon), Franck Aufaure (CGT Nidaplast Thiant), Philippe Ayache (CGT Airbus Defence & Space), Aïcha Azouzagh (CGT ADHAF), Fernande Bagou (CFDT, former Onet striker), Ludivine Bantigny (historian), Frédéric Barrez (CGT Simoldes Onnaing), Yessa Belkhodja (Collectif de défense des jeunes du Mantois), Riad Benmessaoud (CGT RATP), Kamel Bentoumi (CGT PSA Caen), Amal Bentounsi (Urgence notre police assassine), Stéphane Bergantz (CGT PSA Sochaux), Antonin Bernanos (AFA), Judith Bernard (teacher, stage director), Ahmed Berrahal (CGT RATP), Olivier Besancenot (NPA spokesperson), Eric Bezou (sanctioned railwayman, SUD-Rail Saint-Lazare), Frédéric Bichot (general secretary CGT Spie, Haute-Normandie), Sylvain Billot (SUD Insee Paris), Tiphaine Blot (reporter, Mr Mondialisation), Richard Bonny (SUD-PTT Auvergne), Taha Bouhafs (journalist), Charlotte Bossy (UNL national office), Antoine Boudinet (Mutilés pour l’exemple), Mohamed Boujemaoui (Stylos rouges 93), Youcef Brakni (Adama Committee), Nnoman Cadoret (photographer), Sébastien Chalon (CFDT Cheminots, Paris Est), Emilie Chanterannée (SUD- Éducation 54), Heidi Charvin (SNESUP, University of Rouen), Maxime Charlier (SUD-Activité postales 08), Jacques Chastaing (Invisible Wrestling), Tiphaine Chauvin (CGT DSI Toulouse), Antoine Chavet (SNUIPP-FSU 45), Luc Chevalier (SUD Pôle emploi IDF), Maxime Chupin (CGT Dauphine), Jean Jacques Clément (RATP retired, yellow vest La Plaine Saint-Denis), Daniela Cobet (Révolution permanent), Éric Coquerel (La France insoumise MP for Seine-Saint-Denis), Michel Couviaux (FO Randstad Arras), Alexis Cukier (philosopher), Manuela Curopatva (CPE dans le 75), Clément Dagorne (CGT Cheminots Lyon Part-Dieu), Noura Damerval (SUD-PTT), Denis Darmuzey (CGT Cheminots Lyon), Laurent Degousée (Fédération SUP Commerces et services), Thierry Defresne (DSCC CGT Total petrochemical refineries), Antony Delsaux (CGT PSA Valenciennes), Christine Delphy (feminist and sociologist), Vikash Dhorasoo (former footballer), Hamara Diawara (SUD-Rail, former Onet striker), Nordine Dous (CGT RATP), Massamba Drame (SUD Mcdo), Bertrand Dubs (CGT PSA Mulhouse), Fabrice Duee (CGT Travail social Valenciennes), Vincent Duse (CGT PSA Mulhouse), Marie-Hélène Duverger (SUD-Education 76/27), Emma (graphic artist), Eric Fassin (sociologist, Paris 8), Jerome Fichet (CGT Safran Nacelles), Cyril Finance (teacher at Briey, SNUIPP-FSU 54), Ahamadou Fofana (SUD-Rail, former Onet striker), Vincent Fournier (CGT FAPT 78), Arnaud François (philosopher, academic), Mickael Gallais (CGT Rennes la Janais), Isabelle Garo (CGT Educ’action), Franck Gaudichaud (professor, Jean-Jaurès University Toulouse), Kamel Guemari (FO McDonald Marseille), Olivier Goldfarb (CGT FTDNEEA Paris 18e), Adel Gouabsia (UNSA RATP), Gerald Goudal (CGT Macif), Gaëtan Gracia (CGT AHG Toulouse), Jenny Grandet (CGT Safran Le Havre), Bruno Gregoire (CGT Cheminots Tours), Angélique Grosmaire (BF SUD-PTT), Hassan Hammouch (CGT RATP), Franck Hasslauer (SUD-PTT Aude), Christophe Hélou (FSU, high school teacher), Tristan Ihne (CGT-CCN Ballet de Lorraine), Mathias Jeanne (CGT CIM secretary, Le Havre), Anne Jollet (historian, University of Poitiers), Célestine Jonquet (schoolteacher Val de Marne), Philippe Juraver (former RATP trade unionist, retired), Tiziri Kandi (CGT Hôtellerie), Anasse Kazib (SUD-Rail Paris Nord), Razmig Keucheyan (academic), Rachid Khallaki (FO Transports, Montpelier), Laurence Krasznia (Images contemporaines), Isabelle Krzywkowski (SNESUP-FSU, Grenoble University), Reynald Kubecki (CGT Sidel Le Havre), L’1nconsolable (rapper), Aude Lancelin (journalist), Sophie Lapoix (Solidaires Étudiant-e-s Saint-Denis), Gerald Le Corre (CGT 76), Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison (university), Mickaël Le Faouder (SUD TMT), Claude Leclercq (UL CGT Amiens ZI), Élise Lecoq (SNES, Collège Barbara, Stains), Geneviève Legay (ATTAC 06), Francine Lemaître (film editor), Francis Lemasson (CGT Vinci IDF), Jean Pierre Levaray (CGT Chimie, writer), Claude Levy (CGT Hôtellerie), Olivier Long (academic, painter), Frédéric Lordon (philosopher), Louizart Lou (artist-photographer) Pascal Maillard (SNESUP- FSU), Loïc Marin (Solidaires Malakof Mederic), Salomé Martini (SNPTAS-CGT 45), Xavier Mathieu (ex-Continental), Olivier Mazeau (historian), Christopher Mendes (CGT RATP), Victor Mendez (UNEF Nanterre), Christian Meugnier (secretary SUD-PTT 39), Swan Meynier (Centre hospitalier Lons-le-Saunier, Collectif interurgences), Yann Mondragon (CGT PSA Trémery), Jean-Patrick Muller (SUD CT des Dômes – mairie de Clermont-Ferrand), Olivier Neveux (academic), Jean François Naudet (SUD-Education Paris), Arthur Nicola (student representative Le Poing Levé, université Paris 1), Danièle Obono (deputy for La France insoumise, 17th district of Paris), David Otis (Street Medic du 90, Belfort), Ugo Palheta (academic), Anne-Sophie Pelletier (European deputy, La France insoumise), Willy Pelletier (sociologist), Wladimir Perfiloff (CGT Cheminots Trappes), Evelyne Perrin (Stop précarité), Armelle Pertus (schoolteacher, Gennevilliers, SNUIPP-FSU 92), David Pijoan (Don’t touch my ZEP), Néstor Ponce (writer, university professor, Rennes 2), Philippe Poutou (NPA spokesperson), Christine Poupin (NPA spokesperson), Gaël Quirante (SUD-Poste 92), Véronique Rauline (MCF Nanterre, CA SNESUP-FSU), Manuel Rebuschi (SUD-Education, Université de Lorraine), Mathieu Relin (sanctioned railwayman, SUD-Rail Strasbourg), Denis Robert (writer), Jérôme Rodrigues (yellow vest), Francine Royon (CGT Pôle emploi IDF), Yann Rumlet (SUD-PTT 13), Hélène Ruault (SUD-Poste 78), Philippe Sabater (SNU Pôle emploi), Mouloud Sahraoui (CGT Geodis Gennevilliers), Sébastien Scognamiglio (Syndicat CGT des travailleurs ubérisés) Teldja Seniguer (CGT CarifOref Occitanie), Omar Slaouti (SNES-FSU, anti-racist activist), Yann Tavernet (CGT PSA Trémery), Franck Théry (CGT PSA Hordain), Ghislaine Tormos (CGT PSA Poissy), Enzo Traverso (academic), Pierre Tevanian (teacher, Collectif les mots sont importants), Roberto Toscano (Solidaires 54), Paola Toutous (Solidaires Étudiant-e-s Saint-Denis), Assa Traoré (Comité Adama), Anousone Um (SUD Mobitel), Kevin Vacher (Syndicat des quartiers populaires de Marseille), Maude Vadot (Maître de conférences, University Savoie Mont-Blanc), Mickaël Wamen (CGT Goodyear), Nicolas Webanck (Stylos rouges 93), Willy Wesnoker (SUD-Rail Saint-Lazare), Françoise Wittmann (dance teacher, Saint-Denis conservatory)...

First collectives and organizations to sign: CGT Goodyear, CGT Vinci IDF, CGT Educ’action 92, CGT educ’action 95, CGT Wattrelos, Collectif intergare, Collectif intergare, Collectif Mutilés pour l’exemple, Comité Adama, Compagnie Jolie Môme, Émancipation tendance intersyndicale, Front social, Front social 57, Front social 92, Info’Com CGT, Luttes invisibles, SUD-Poste 78, SUD-Poste 92, SUD-PTT 13, Sud-Rail Saint-Lazare, Révolution permanente, Urgence notre police assassine, Collectif étudian Le Poing Levé, Solidaires Étudiant-e-s Saint-Denis, Stylos rouges, Stylos rouges 93, SUD-Rail Strasbourg, SUD-Éducation 78, SUD-Éducation 92, UNL 17, 62, 06, 32, 32, 92, 31, Friday For Future Nice, RATP collective ‘L’Union fait notre force’, feminist collective ‘Du pain et des roses’, yellow vests Mantes-la- Jolie, yellow vests Nanterre, Collectif ‘Le repaire de Bennecourt’, Collectif ‘C sans fin’, Cervaux non disponibles…


[1] [A provision that the reduced pension provision would be applied only to new entrants to the labour force.]