Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/785/17620

From The Socialist newspaper, 23 October 2013

France: Deep malaise marks 'la rentrée'

A fighting, working class left remains to be built

Clare Doyle (CWI Secretariat) and Leila Messaoudi (Gauche Révolutionnaire, CWI in France)
Demonstrations in France against attacks on pension rights, photo Judy Beishon

Demonstrations in France against attacks on pension rights, photo Judy Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

The return to work after the summer holidays in France, as in other southern European countries, is often seen as a time when the struggle of workers and students will be renewed, even taken up a level from the previous year. Not in 2013! This year's 'rentrée' has been characterised by a deep malaise.

As September started, the financial press in France was delighting in a 'reprieve' for the economy - growth of 0.5% at the most! Another piece of 'good' news was a lower monthly figure for unemployment.

In fact, only a new way of calculating unemployment resulted in a lower figure! It remains at over 10% and for young people between 15% and 24%.

New job cuts have been announced in every sector of the economy - Air France, Michelin, Danfoss, Technibel...

Nearly three million children in France are living in poverty and yet the Socialist Party (PS) government is launching a new attack on allowances for families with children at school.

Budget cuts of €14 billion are on the agenda for 2014. In September, the cost of food and of electricity went up by 11%.

In the countryside poverty is palpable; uprooted vines lie in piles at abandoned vineyards, villages are deserted as young people leave in search of an income.

The retirement reform that is presented as a 'mini-reform' is in fact a severe blow for present wage-earners and pensioners.

It means a rise in contributions, taxation on what we pay into the scheme and an increase in the age at which you can leave work with the full pension - probably to 67 for those born after 1973 who have jobs.

No choice?

The government's approach gives the impression of having no choice but to make the majority of the population pay for the crisis.

But the facts suggest otherwise: the finance minister, Pierre Moscovici, has announced a lightening of the tax burden - compensation to the bosses in exchange for a tiny increase in their contributions, which they do not pay from their own pockets anyway.

Gone into oblivion are Hollande's election scare stories about 75% taxation of big fortunes, gone is the talk of nationalisation for companies like Petroplus and Arcelor Mittal.

In the face of a lowering of conditions at work and of living standards, there is action being taken by workers affected; sporadic and sometimes longer action is taken, but separate from each other.

The 'Days of Action' called by the CGT (major trade union federation) against the retirement legislation started with 10 September, which was too soon after the rentrée to be mobilised for.

Then a week of action was announced for 7 October and again very little was done. On the final 'Day of Action' in this round - 15 October - only the most battle-hardened workers took strike action and went on local demonstrations with little hope of affecting the legislation which has now gone through parliament.

Many people will be wondering what use it is to be on strike, to lose a day's pay, if it changes nothing.

To be on strike, in view of the low wages and precarious jobs, must serve some purpose, either in gaining something in the workplace or in a broader sense.

A genuine one-day general strike is needed to confront the government and the plans of the big bosses to throw people out of work.

At present, no left party or trade union is taking up a serious fight against the bosses or the government.

The government's attacks on workers are still moderate compared with other countries; the fear of provoking a generalised confrontation between the classes is ever present in France.

With the exception of the National Front (FN), now with a local byelection victory in Brignoles (South-East) under its belt, none of the main political parties is confident of its future.

The government of president Francois Hollande and prime minister Jean Marc Ayrault is not carrying out policies fundamentally different from right-wing ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and his UMP party.

Hollande is doing nothing decisive to show even the slightest opposition to big business. The 'socialists', in spite of their crippling unpopularity, may still be the best option for the capitalist class to push through their 'reforms'.

The National Front

The right is in disarray and is having difficulty recovering from the blow inflicted on Sarkozy through the ballot box by the majority of workers and young people.

In fact, at bottom, the UMP has difficulties because, apart from its style of government, very little separates it from the policy of the PS-Green government.

In this context, the FN presents itself as the only party in opposition to the PS and UMP. It has had this approach for 40 years but what is different today - after the left governments under Mitterand, Jospin and now Hollande - is that the 'left' in government is not pretending its policies are pro-worker.

Their open anti-worker politics are accompanied by a justification that is racist. The PS no longer says the problems are the fault of the big bosses.

The interior minister, Valls, has adopted outright racist language in relation to the Roma in France.

This approach has been highlighted by the deportation last week of a Roma school student, Leonarda. When she was taken off a school bus to be deported to Kosovo with her family, big protests and school student strikes erupted demanding she be returned to France.

Hollande, aiming to pacify the protests, said the girl could return to finish her studies, but without her family - only leading to further outrage against the president and his government.

Real opposition needed

This absence of a stand against capitalism and racism by the PS benefits the FN. It can falsely present itself as a party of opposition while it is against workers - for retirement at 67, for example - and fundamentally for capitalism.

It is in this way that it can continue to profit from this political vacuum particularly at the time of the next elections.

Those who are fighting the closure of their workplace or against a PSE ("Plan to Save Jobs") or fighting for better wages, have to be able to take up the struggle immediately and cannot count on this government to defend them.

Against redundancy plans, against the destruction of retirement rights, against the deterioration of our living conditions, our working conditions and our education rights.

In the face of racism and islamaphobia, workers, young people and pensioners must be able to make their voices heard.

We need a real opposition of the left against the government and the bosses which draws together all those who want to struggle.

Who is fighting for these interests at the moment? To the left of the PS there are several political forces.

In 2012, the candidacy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the Left Front, was widely supported and a whole section of the population still looks on him positively.

Today, if the Left Front wants to put up real opposition to current policies, it should take advantage of its position and appeal to all those who want to oppose the government to fight and make a broad call for organising and building the struggles.

Divisions

But the Front de Gauche (Left Front) is under severe pressure. As local and European elections approach in the spring of next year, the Left Party and the Communist Party are divided on important issues.

The Communist Party justifies the idea of an electoral alliance with the ruling Socialist Party (in Paris, for example) by saying they aim to push the SP back to the left.

But if the latter could go back, it would only be under pressure from mass mobilisations, not under the impact of an election result.

Among the population, a large number of people reject this society of precarious jobs, of poverty, which leaves more than 25% of its young people unemployed and also dictates how to dress, who to love, what to think, while it is not even capable of providing the basic necessities of subsistence: work and shelter.

The causes of all this are exploitation, the rule of profit, it is in the foundations of the capitalist system. The struggle for a different society - a socialist society - is necessary.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 23 October 2013:


Socialist Party news and analysis

It's a robbery not a 'recovery'

Build a no-cuts political alternative

Hypocritical Hunt blames families for care scandal

Government policies - 'deeply divisive'

Big business lines its pockets from nuclear power

Them & Us


Socialist Party feature

Energy for the millions ...not the millionaires


International socialist news and analysis

France: Deep malaise marks 'la rentrée'

Tunisia: Left-wing rapper, Klay BBJ, acquitted on appeal


Socialist Party workplace news

Overwhelming support for teachers' strike in the south and north

Postal workers go into battle

Grangemouth: a fight we can't afford to lose

PCS strike in DWP and DEFRA Shared Services

Probation officers vote for strike action

What role can trade unions play in fighting welfare attacks?

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaign victory for rebel councillors as local pool to be re-opened

We need action against zero-hour contracts

TUSC candidates stand up against austerity

200 say 'Tequila's got to go!'

Swansea socialists oppose National Front

Turn anger into action: join the socialists


 

Home   |   The Socialist 23 October 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

France:

triangleFrench Labour reform protests

triangleFrench elections: Macron's win

triangleFrench elections: time to build a fighting left alternative

triangleFrance - Huge voter abstention belies Macron's 'landslide' election

triangleFrance: Macron won't solve economic & social crises

Young people:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

triangleWest London Socialist Party: Young people need socialism!

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

Jobs:

triangleNationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

trianglePCS ballots members to send message to government: scrap the pay cap

triangleWorkplace news in brief

European:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleCatalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

CWI:

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

International

International

18/10/17

Hong Kong

Campaign against political repression in Hong Kong

11/10/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

4/10/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia - the people have the right to decide

4/10/17

Catalonia

Eyewitness: Irish socialist MP participates in events

2/10/17

Catalonia

Exemplary resistance by the people of Catalonia

27/9/17

Germany

Germany: Election results in political earthquake

27/9/17

Catalonia

Strike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

27/9/17

Germany

German elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

27/9/17

France

French Labour reform protests

25/9/17

Catalonia

Catalonia: Student strike called

20/9/17

Myanmar

Brutal repression of Rohingya people sparks massive humanitarian crisis

20/9/17

Catalonia

Solidarity with Catalonia in the Spanish state

15/9/17

Germany

Berlin hospital strike

13/9/17

Korea

Korean peninsula: is nuclear war likely?

13/9/17

Students

Interview with leader of students' union in the Spanish state: "When we fight, we win!"

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

triangle19 Oct Swansea Socialist Party: Spanish revolution 1936-37

triangle19 Oct Cardiff East Socialist Party: Is equality for women possible under capitalism?

triangle19 Oct Wirral Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian Revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2