AG-IP Paris - They have struggled against the kind of world the capitalists are preparing... | Leftcom

AG-IP Paris - They have struggled against the kind of world the capitalists are preparing...

... and on the road of struggle they have found the unions united against them

The Address which we are publishing below represents an effort by the final participants in the General Inter-professional Assembly (AG-IP) of the Gare de l’Est in Paris to address the international working class whose living conditions have been strongly attacked in the same way as the French workers. This address would have had an extraordinary symbolic significance if it could have been edited in the heat of the struggle by all the participants in the AG-IP.

The French workers’ struggle has gone well beyond a simple scuffle over the reform of pensions; they have struggled against the kind of world the capitalists are preparing and on the road of struggle they have found the unions united against them.

On the other hand we have to make a political criticism. The Address states that the “markets [are] the source of profits”, they speak even of “productive outlets”? No, the source of profit comes from the surplus value created in the process of production not by markets. “Markets which produce profits” don’t exist. All new value and surplus value is created by wage workers, the markets only enable this surplus value to be transformed into a monetary form.

The Address is thus profoundly contradictory because, on the one hand, it correctly emphasises that

behind the defence of the national economy, each capitalist, each state, each boss tries to reduce his “costs” in order to maintain “competitivity” and that in not having “ceased intensifying their attacks on our living and working conditions

[the Address also correctly cites all the austerity measures taken in every country to guarantee this capitalist “competitivity”, that is to say their ability to extract more surplus value in a profitable way in relation to their investment] but on the other hand, the Address contradicts itself in maintaining that the principal problem is not to be found there but in the markets! So the reader does not know which is the main cause: is it the need to safeguard profitability, the “competitivity” of enterprises which is at the centre of the austerity measures, that is to say to allow the extraction of surplus value in a profitable fashion, or is it to be found in the markets? As a result of these confusions the readers understands nothing of what is happening today: why would the main problem for capitalism be to find markets when it takes measures to guarantee exploitation and capitalist profitability which restrict the market?

But we cannot leave our comments on this Address there. To underline this great and courageous effort of workers in struggle would only be imperfect if we did not remind them that in order to advance in the struggle towards their emancipation and finally achieve liberation through revolution they have to regroup everyone in and around an internationalist communist party which synthesises their past experiences in order to fruitfully go beyond them.

Orélien, 2010-12-22

Address to the wageworkers, the unemployed and the casual workers, and the students of Europe

We are a group of wage workers from different sectors (railways, teachers, IT workers ..) .. of the unemployed and casual workers. During the recent strikes in France we joined together in an Interprofessional General Assembly, at first on a platform in the Gare de l’Est station (Paris) then in a room in a labour exchange. We wanted to regroup the largest possible number of workers from other towns in the Paris region. Because we have had enough of the unions’ class collaboration which led us once again to defeat we wanted to organise on our own to try to unify the striking sectors, to extend the strike and to ensure that the strikers themselves controlled their struggle.

Against the Capitalist’s Social War - Workers Must Take up the Class Struggle

In Great Britain, in Ireland, in Portugal, in Spain, in France … in every country we are being brutally attacked. Our living conditions are getting worse.

In GB, the Cameron Government has announced the reduction of 500,000 jobs in the state sector, £7 billion in welfare cuts, the tripling of university fees etc.

In Ireland the Cowen Government has reduced the minimum wage by more than one euro an hour and pensions by 9%.

In Portugal workers face a record unemployment rate. In Spain the “very socialist” Zapatero has never stopped making open cuts of all kinds in unemployment, health and other welfare benefits…

In France the Government continues to undermine our living conditions. After pensions it is the turn of health. The access to care is becoming more and more difficult for workers: more expensive prescriptions, increases in private health care and the reduction in hospital staff. Like the rest of the public sector (Post Office, EDF-GDF (oil and gas firms), Telecom) hospitals are to be dismantled and privatised. The result is that millions of working class families, here and now, cannot get medical attention.

This policy is vital for capitalists. Faced with the development of the crisis and the collapse of entire sectors of the capitalist economy, the latter find fewer and fewer markets, sources of profit for their capital. . This also pushes them to privatise more of the public sector.

Moreover these new markets are more restricted as productive outlets than the pillars of the world economy such as construction, cars, and oil … They don’t allow, even in the best of cases, for an economic recovery.

Also in the context of the collapse the struggle for markets by the big international trusts will be all the more desperate. To put it another way this is a question of life and death for investors of capital. In this struggle each capitalist will dig in behind his state for defence. In the name of defence of the national economy the capitalists will attempt to drag us into their economic war.

The victims of this war are … the workers. Because behind the defence of the national economy each national capitalist class, each State, each boss tries to reduce his “costs” in order to maintain “competitivity”. Concretely they won’t have ceased intensifying of their attacks on our working and living conditions. If we let them do it, if we accept by tightening our belts once again these sacrifices will know no end. They will even put in question our very conditions of existence!

Workers, refuse to let them divide us by firm, sector or nationality. Refuse to take part in this economic war both at home and abroad. Fight together and unite in struggle! The cry launched by Marx is more meaningful than ever “Workers of the world, unite”.

We workers must take control of our own struggles

Today it is the workers of Greece, of Spain, the students of Britain, who are in struggle and are exposed to governments whether of left or right, who are in the service of the ruling classes. And like us in France you have to deal with governments which use violent repression against workers, students, the unemployed and high school pupils.

In France this autumn we wanted to defend ourselves. We were millions who went into the streets to simply and purely reject this new attack. We were fighting this new law and all the austerity measures which struck us with full force. We said “no” to an increase in insecurity and poverty.

But the intersyndical (the coordination of the unions) wilfully led us to defeat by fighting the extension of the strike movement.

In place of breaking down barriers between trades and firms to unite the workers more widely, the mass meetings of each firm were closed to other workers.

They took spectacular action to “halt the economy” but did nothing to organise flying pickets which could have drawn more workers into the struggle. This is what the workers and the casuals did.

They negotiated our defeat behind our backs, behind the closed doors of the cabinet ministers.

The internsyndicale never rejected the pension law but even repeated time and again they it was “necessary” and “inevitable”. This means we would have had to be content with demanding “more boss-government-union negotiations” “better implementation of the law to make it more just and equitable”.

To struggle against all these attacks we can count only on ourselves. As far as we are concerned in this movement we have to defend the necessity for workers to organise themselves in their workplaces, in their sovereign general assemblies and to coordinate them at a national level to direct the strike movement through the election of delegates who can be recalled at any time. Only a lively struggle organised and controlled by the whole of the working class both as a means and an objective can create the necessary conditions to ensure victory.

We know that this isn’t over, the attacks are going to continue, living conditions will become more and more difficult and the consequences of the capitalist crisis will make things worse. Everywhere throughout the world we must thus fight. To do that we must restore confidence in our own strength.

We are capable of taking our struggle in our own hands and organising ourselves collectively.

We are capable of open and fraternal debate, in “free speech”.

We are capable of truly controlling the holding of debates and taking decisions

The general assemblies must not be led by the unions but by the workers themselves.

We are going to have to fight to defend our lives and that of our children!

The exploited of the world are brothers and sisters in a single class!

Only our unity across all frontiers will enable us to overthrow this system of exploitation!

Some participants of the AG – IP “Gare de l’Est et Ile de France”
To contact us: interpro@riseup.net

Revolutionary Perspectives

Journal of the Communist Workers’ Organisation -- Why not subscribe to get the articles whilst they are still current and help the struggle for a society free from exploitation, war and misery? Joint subscriptions to Revolutionary Perspectives (3 issues) and Aurora (our agitational bulletin - 4 issues) are £15 in the UK, €24 in Europe and $30 in the rest of the World.