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The French Union Bureaucracy Tries to Bury the Movement Against the Pension Reform by Resuming “Social Dialogue”

After historic May 1st protests, the Inter-Union announced the following day that the next mobilization will take place on Tuesday, June 6. This distant date appears only to be conceived of as a way to pressure the National Assembly, which continues its strategy of defeat and prepares to bury the movement.

Nathan Erderof

May 12, 2023
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Photo: Permanent Revolution Toulouse

After having met by videoconference in the morning, the Inter-Union spoke last Tuesday in a statement. The trade union leaders applaud the May 1 mobilizations and call for a fourteenth day of action for Tuesday, June 6, two days before the consideration of the bill to repeal the pension reform, which was proposed by a group of deputies known as LIOT (Liberties, independents, overseas and territories).

June 6: A month to extend the pressure strategy and prepare the mobilization’s funeral

After two weeks of interruption of the national mobilizations and a day after a historic May 1st, the Inter-Union has chosen to take the perspective of proposing only one distant date to mobilize. This decision paves the way for the movement’s burial before the summer holidays, is inconsistent with the anger expressed on Monday by 2.3 million people, and has been repeatedly denounced by many demonstrators as a last-ditch effort

Refusing to reassess its strategy since January 19, the Inter-Union reiterates the logic of pressure that it has adopted since the beginning of the movement. Writing, “Pending the decision on the referendum, the Inter-Union welcomes the bill to repeal the pension reform that will be on the agenda on June 8 in the National Assembly.” They then make a call “to meet the deputies everywhere to urge them to vote for this bill” and “to multiply the initiatives in this context, in particular, a new day of joint action, strikes, and demonstrations on June 6.”

After months and months of suffering failure after failure in the Assembly, the Senate, and the Constitutional Council, the Inter-Union drafts no balance sheet and calls for ever more spaced-out isolated days of mobilization. Their aim being to send messages to parliamentarians rather than build a hard balance of forces through the renewable strike. Worse, by announcing that it wants to participate in the “round of discussions” announced by the government to “recall [its] refusal of the pension reform” but also to “work on joint interunion proposals […] in terms of wages, working conditions, …”, it paves the way for the return of the “social dialogue”, which the government is counting on to disarm the movement and close the sequence of pensions.

Victory is always possible: We must denounce the “social dialogue” and impose a battle plan up to par

The attitude of the Inter-Union, calling for an umpteenth date of isolated mobilization ever more distant while resuming the “social dialogue” constitutes a clear refusal to hear the anger at the base, which has multiplied and widened since 49.3, and has maintained after 13 national mobilizations. While the government remains isolated, it makes moves back to the offensive with attacks against the most precarious population, immigrants, along with an austerity offensive. This logic opens the way for new attacks against our class.

On the other hand, there is an urgent need to take full stock of the strategy used since January 19, which has prevented the sectors on a renewable strike from winning and has isolated them, as well as to impose another strategy, one based on the construction of a balance of forces through the strike, and on a program that makes it possible to respond to all the situation’s challenges. Not only the withdrawal of Macron’s counter-reform, but also the increase in wages, opposition to the authoritarian offensive, and the repression that has been unleashed to stifle anger, the end of the Fifth Republic, and of course ousting Macron and all his reforms!

This is what the demonstrators expressed this Monday in the procession of the Network for the General Strike, which since February, has defended the need for another strategy and for grassroots organizing. As Laura Varlet explained at the Parisian march, “It is not a question of gathering around a table to discuss with the government like the Inter-Union wants to do. As early as next week, we need to get together to come up with a battle plan at the base. This is what we are trying to do with the Network for the General Strike, we must generalize it and extend it everywhere.”

First published in French on May 2 on Révolution Permanente.

Translation by Stacey Bear

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