Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday 20th, all out on strike and in the streets!

Convergences Révolutionnaires statement

It's in the name of "fairness" that Sarkozy, [Prime Minister] Fillon and their allies are waging the struggle against "special" pension deals. But no-one can help but notice that having voted through 15 billion euros' tax cuts for the rich and given himself a 206% pay (or is that pocket money?) rise, having ignored the fraudulent profits of his mate Lagardère who got rid of tens of thousands of jobs at Airbus, President Sarkozy and his government don't have anything much to do with "fairness". And it's a bit of a swindle when they tell us "work more to earn more!"

Train drivers, RATP [Paris transport network] workers, electricians and gas-workers don't need telling that Sarkozy wants them to work more and earn less. All other worker s understand that they are also in the firing line of this attack. Not only because after taking on "special deals" the government will mount a fresh fight against all pensions, demanding 41 or 42 years' worth of pension fund contributions - in fact cutting pensions. But also because this government is preparing new measures to make redundancies easier, push down salaries, cut unemployment benefits and attack free healthcare.

"Fairness" would be a return to 37 and a half years' worth of pension fund contributions, like before Balladur's private sector reforms. Why should it be that the huge economic growth of the last few decades is translated into the need to work for longer and the impoverishment of workers and retired people? How come bosses and shareholders can still get rich anyway?

"Fairness" would mean dividing up wealth differently, first off setting a minimum wage of 300 euros a week for everyone. That would just be to meet increases in the cost of living, which are felt particularly sharply in basic necessities like food, petrol, rent and bills. "Fairness" would mean banning lay-offs, in particular in enterprises which are making profits. It would mean getting rid of casual contracts.

All those taking strike action and demonstrating in the streets are right - it's the only way of stopping [Sarkozy] pressganging the whole working class into even deeper poverty.

The government would love to force the workers who were on strike in the days leading up to Tuesday [20th November] to give in. It fears that they will join up with public sector workers as well as a certain number in the private sector. It knows that if the movement broadens it will become an irresistable force and it will have to back down. So, all together now! Our future depends on it, as does that of our children - including many of the students fighting against the university reforms in order than education is not placed even more at the service of capital and even more unequal.

Sarkozy and his government hope, with the support of certain union leaders - who have until now done everything possible to keep the struggles separate - to avoid having to face a united movement. The Parti Socialiste politicians themselves want to stop the strikes. They support us no more than right-wingers do, and all of them proclaim that they would make the same "reforms", even if they say they'd use different methods to put them in place. But nothing proves that these stooges will be able to put the lid on the movement without cost. It's time for all the unions to follow the example of the rank-and-file train drivers who in their general assemblies last week showed that they would not bend down in front of anyone else's decisions. We can't count on anything but our struggle, and we must be in charge of it ourselves.

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