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How Does the Revolutionary Left in France Intervene in the Strike?

With entire sectors of workers on strike in France, there is ample opportunity for the Left to intervene decisively in the struggle. The Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR) has used its influence in workplaces and its national coverage of the struggle to push for a generalization of the strike and to fight against the capitulations of the union bureaucracy.

Left Voice

January 22, 2020
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Cherbourg le 7 novembre 2009. 1500 Manifestants ont défilé contre l'implantation d'un terminal charbonnier sur le port de Cherbourg. Drapeaux du NPA. Crédit Photo: Photothèque Rouge/Franck Houlgatte

France is in the middle of one of the most important workers’ actions of the last several years. Large sectors of the working class are on strike against the pension reform proposed by the hated ultra-neoliberal president Emmanuel Macron and the socialist left – like the Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR) is playing a very prominent role in organizing the vanguard.

The Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR) has been building a tendency within the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA). Since the emergence of the NPA in 2009, the CCR has openly fought against the idea of participating in broad parties that lack strategic delimitation. Within the NPA, the CCR fights to build a revolutionary party with strong principles of class independence based on class struggle and a revolutionary program. The CCR is one of the largest left tendencies within the NPA, if not the largest. In the most recent party congress, held in February 2018, the CCR won 11% of the vote for leadership bodies.

These achievements were possible because CCR maintains a strong focus on class struggle, both in its interventions as a group and in the politics it puts forward on Revolution Permanente, part of the international La Izquierda Diario/Left Voice network. CCR members played a leading role in the strike of outsourced railway cleaning workers from Onet in 2017. They also were part of the 2018 strike against reforms for the state railway company. 

In addition to interventions in working-class struggles, our student comrades played a key role in occupying the universities of Tolbiac in Paris and El Mirail in Toulouse, protesting the reforms imposed by President Macron that limit access to higher education. In the current strike, they organized rank-and-file assemblies during the strike to challenge the bureaucratic control of union leaderships. Since the outbreak of this struggle, Anasse Kazib, a railway worker and member of the CCR, has gained prominence and respect among workers, and has become a public figure in national media.

Prior experience in working-class struggles and the accumulation of revolutionary cadres allowed the CCR to play a role in the Yellow Vest movement, which began in November 2018. In contrast to the vast majority of unions and the left which looked at these demonstrations with distrust or even hostility, the CCR,  with sectors of the Yellow Vests, organized a solidarity committee to fight back against police brutality and repression. The committee was endorsed by the family of Adama Traoré, a young man killed by French police in 2016. This committee served as a pole of attraction within the movement that was capable of fighting the influence of the extreme right, which sought to co-opt the Yellow Vest workers with xenophobic ideas. At the height of the rebellion in December, this pole mobilized more than 5,000 people at marches and organized two assemblies with several hundred participants.

Faced with the traitorous attitude of the trade union leaders who turned their backs on the Yellow Vest movement—even though it put forward several progressive demands and was composed mostly of poor workers—CCR members started an initiative demanding that the unions support the movement. They presented a petition signed by more than 100 trade union members to the CGT, the largest labor federation in France,  demanding the federation change its position. At the same time, they organized concrete initiatives for convergence, such as an assembly in Toulouse, where Yellow Vest activists proposed marching to the trade unions’ offices to discuss a unified action plan against Macron’s government. This led to a meeting of hundreds of Yellow Vests and trade unionists. The CCR also organized a rally at the emblematic hall La Generale de Paris with several Yellow Vests who had been victims of police brutality. The event attracted 300 people.

In the heat of the struggle, the CCR’s website, Révolution Permanente took a major leap forward and became a voice for the movement. With a monthly average of 1.5 million visits since November 2018 and a peak of more than 2 million visits in one month, Révolution Permanente surpassed even well-known newspapers such as L’Humanité, a paper linked to the French Communist Party. Last year,  for the European elections, Révolution Permanente campaigned for Lutte Ouvrière’s candidates, the only left slate in France that is based on class independence.

Now, the CCR is intervening prominently in the ongoing strike against pension reforms that has lasted for over 40 days. Members of CCR are leading the struggle from within their unions, workplaces, and universities, pushing for class independence as union officials meet with the government. In the workers’ assemblies breaking out across the country, they advocate for a broadening of the strike’s demands to draw new sectors into the struggle, as well as for a generalization of the strike to paralyze France’s economy.

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