THE French Socialist government’s cabinet has opted for a dictatorship over the working class by agreeing to force through its anti-trade union legislation, invoking a little-used Article (49.3) in the constitution to enable Prime Minister Manuel Valls to by-pass parliament.
This dictatorial decision was taken after a number of MPs from the ruling Socialist Party said they would vote against their party’s bill and refused to reach a compromise on it with their Hollande government.
PM Valls said: ‘I’m doing it, they’re doing it, because we are convinced this project is acting in favour of long-term employment. It will give people access to the workplace, people who’ve been excluded. Significantly, our small businesses will be able to hire staff. This law will give flexibility and bring reactivity to our businesses.’
In fact the decree allows employers to stamp on workers’ rights and cut pay and work breaks while adding extra hours of work. The changes to the labour laws make it easier for employers to hire and fire and opponents warned that employers will smash workers’ rights on pay and overtime.
President Francois Hollande has already faced months of resistance to the bill from students, unions and even members of his own Socialist Party. His government is now based exclusively on the state and its massive paramilitary specially trained forces of the CRS and other counter-revolutionary state forces.
The Bill accepts the 35-hour week only as an average. Employers can now impose a 46-hour week if they wish. Companies now have the right to impose wage cuts on their staff, and also impose mass lay-offs. The cynical Socialists say that companies will take on more workers if they know that they can get rid of them easily when they want to.
Employers can dictate when there are to be holidays and special leave, such as maternity or for getting married. These have previously been heavily regulated. The only parliamentary way to try to halt the bill would be to pass a specific vote of censure – in parliament within 24 hours. This is being attempted today, but will not win a majority since this act of defending democracy would bring down the government and deepen the political crisis.
The battle will now be fought out in the streets in a struggle that will match the intensity and importance of the great May and June 1968 battles between workers supported by students and the hated CRS and other state forces that were marshalled by General de Gaulle who came to power by overthrowing the Fourth Republic.
In that struggle, the workers and students fought the CRS to the point where the special units were on the point of mutiny and General de Gaulle had to go to see the commander of the French garrison in Germany to retain its support.
What saved the day for the capitalists in 1968 is that the powerful French Communist Party turned what was a struggle for power into an economic issue of getting a little better deal, which they were willing to settle for saving General de Gaulle, the Fifth Republic and French capitalism.
Today, with worldwide capitalism in a much deeper crisis, there are no reformist solutions possible for the economic and political crisis that is gripping France. The French working class and trade unions supported by the millions of revolutionary youth will take on and fight it out with state forces showing a traditional great courage and magnificent audacity.
What is required to win the struggle is the development of the revolutionary party, a section of the Fourth International to mobilise the working class to over- throw the Socialist government and to go forward to abolish the Fifth Republic by bringing in a socialist Republic.
Such a revolutionary leap will be the beginning of the end of the EU and would see the French, German, Greek and British workers overthrowing the EU and replacing it with the Socialist United States of Europe.
Yesterday, after Hollande’s coup was announced, there were major clashes in Nantes and Paris. The great historic business of the settling of accounts in France has begun!