The French working class in struggle against the attacks of the capitalist state and … the pensions “reform”

In order to face the full extent and seriousness of the economic crisis of 2008 the French bourgeoisie, like all the other bourgeoisies, has to strongly attack the workers to fill in the deficit chasm which they created in order to “save” their moribund system. France has decided to start with an attack on pensions, whilst Greece and Spain have taken broader and more drastic measures. After France it was Britain’s turn to introduce even more draconian cuts.

In France the unions (CGT, CFDT, SUD etc) had already organised 3 days of action in the spring of 2010 against pensions reform but the temper and anger of the workers forced them to unite in an all trades union (joined this time by FO) alliance to organise once again from the beginning of September 7 new days of action (7 and 23 September, 2, 12, 16, and 18 October). The mobilisation was massive throughout the country since these days of action did not weaken the mobilisation, on the contrary, on every occasion they involved 3 million workers throughout the whole of France.

The disposition and anger of the workers was equally shown, here and there, through the organisation of general assemblies and strike committees, run by both unionised and non-unionised workers. In numerous towns and regions some minorities have tried to organise mass meetings (general assemblies) in workplaces and at the end of demonstrations like those which have developed in Toulouse, where after the 2 October demonstration a mass meeting took place in the Avenue Jean Jaures.


One of the features of this movement is that the demands against the pension reform tended to include the other grievances against all the attacks of the capitalist state and this has given it a lot of strength. Indeed, poverty, precariousness (job insecurity), exploitation seem to be openly rejected. The solidarity amongst the different sectors is reflected in these important minorities. This is the reason why the high school and university students have mobilised. They are equally touched by the fear of unemployment and growing poverty. It is furthermore this rising of the high school students which has given the greatest fear to the bourgeoisie because they are less hemmed in by the unions and express more openly a fear about what the system has in store.

For the moment the working class has not yet really managed to take its struggles into its own hands, even if there have been some clumsy and minority attempts here and there throught the creation of “interprofessional” assemblies uniting all the workers in a town or region outside of the unions. It constantly pressurises the cross union initiative but it has not really arrived at organising itself collectively through sovereign, autonomous general assemblies (mass meetings) independent of the unions. On the contrary, since 18 October the brutal actions and the occupations at the refineries and oil depots don’t express the future of the movement because they are not led directly and independently by the workers themselves but are within the union framework, mainly the CGT, which allows the government to put on a martial air and wave a big stick, saying that it is going to take measures against the blockades of the refineries and the economy so that “order can be guaranteed”. Since then the government and the unions, who are masters of this types of actions and manipulations, have tried to extinguish the movement by channelling and exhausting it in actions within the traditional and well rehearsed framework.

And now?

This movement, which has not been confined to the particular question of pensions, is developing out of a particular situation of capitalist crisis, and under the brutal and simultaneous attacks throughout the country. Given this, it is full of potential if we put it in perspective, and in its enduring struggle beyond the specific attack on pensions.

The ruling class knows this since two more days of fake action have been called for 28 October, and 6 November by the unions in order to continue the dirty work of exhausting the struggle. The workers must profit from it to discuss in mass assemblies and to construct their own network and means of struggle in order to take their struggles more and more into their own hands in pursuit of a movement against the future attacks which we can be sure won’t be long in coming.

Aurélien, 24 October 2010