WITH millions of workers and youth on strike or taking to the streets, where they have been joined by the masses of the Yellow Vest movement, the French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, speaking up for the French bosses and bankers, has reiterated the determination of the French government and its capitalist state enforcers to continue to implement his government’s ‘pension reform’, to make workers work much longer for savagely cut pensions.
His desperate tone comes as French transport systems are now paralysed for a sixth consecutive day, and the major cities have been brought to a halt in protest at the planned destruction of workers’ pensions.
Speaking for Macron, Philippe has spelt out that, ‘I am determined to take this pension reform to its completion and I will do this respectfully and I will address people’s concerns about it.’
He added for good measure a big threat: ‘If we do not implement a thorough, serious and progressive reform today, someone else will do one tomorrow, but really brutally.’ The Prime Minister is threatening workers with a fascist state!
However, the French state machine is not as powerful and confident as it was. It was unable to drive the ‘Yellow Vests’ off the streets.
In fact, the ‘Yellow Vests’ have tested the riot police forces and created a situation where the men with the guns, rubber bullets, live rounds and water cannon are no longer themselves certain of victory.
In May and June 1968, it took weeks for the masses of workers and students to bring the riot police to the brink of mutiny, leaving De Gaulle with no alternative but to go to see the French military leaders to urge them to intervene.
The French working class is determined to defend its pensions, and if it takes a revolution to do that, this is what will be done.
Unions say the new system will introduce a ‘points system’ for retirement, which will have a significant impact on both the public and private sectors, and will force workers to work well beyond the official retirement age of 62.
Philippe Martinez, the head of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) union, said his union would continue with protests until the government shelved the plan.
‘We will continue until the plan is withdrawn,’ Martinez said yesterday. ‘Let (Philippe) listen to people’s anger. Let him say that only idiots never change their minds. Let him go back to square one. There is nothing good in the government reform plan.’
President Emmanuel Macron has already faced a major challenge to his rule from ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters for more than a year. Yesterday, he was meeting state officials for a council of war. Meanwhile, workers have declared that, ‘This strike is not going to stop,’ echoing the remarks of CGT’s Martinez, on Thursday.
Across the channel in the UK, workers are taking strike action in the health service in the North of Ireland, on the privatised rail system and in the Royal Mail. In fact, the UK working class is gearing up for mass action after the 12th of December general election.
The British crisis is as deep as is the French and German crisis. All are part of the growing world crisis of the capitalist system.
It was Karl Marx who suggested in the 1870s that the French workers would start the ‘great business’, that the British workers would continue it and that the German working class would conclude it, leading to a socialist Europe. It is this process that is being thrust forward today by the worldwide economic crisis and its impact on a desperate European Union.
A French indefinite general strike will be followed by massive strike actions in the UK and strike actions in Germany whose economic miracle is biting the dust.
What the French, UK and German workers need is the revolutionary leadership of sections of the Fourth International to lead the struggle to bring down French, German and British capitalism, overthrow the European Union and replace it with a Socialist United States of Europe.
The workers and youth of Europe are now gearing up to carry out this task, that will liberate and unite the productive forces of Europe in a planned socialist economy and prepare the way for the victory of the world socialist revolution, replacing bankrupt capitalism with world socialism.
This is the way forward and the workers of Europe are leading the way!