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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2016

Fight attacks on workers' rights and austerity, French strikes show the way

Come to the NSSN conference 2 July

Photo Paul Mattsson

Photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

David Semple, Assistant secretary, PCS DWP group executive committee (personal capacity)

Mass strike action has paralysed French oil refineries and nuclear power stations. Rail and other transport links have been severely disrupted, as workers demand that the government backs down and withdraws the hated El Khomri (named after the government minister) labour law 'reform'.

Directly implemented by fiat of supposedly 'socialist' president Francois Hollande - who refused to call a vote in the National Assembly as he believed it would be defeated - the law will allow employers to unilaterally extend the working week, reduce ordinary and overtime pay and make it much easier to sack workers from permanent jobs.

Following months of agitation and smaller strikes, the French union confederation CGT and other unions have finally been stirred into action by the overwhelming anger of millions of workers, who took to the streets through March, April and May to show their outrage.

Violent attacks by the riot police have failed to dam up again the anger felt by workers. An 'Occupy'-style movement, Nuit Debout, has developed since 31 March, in public squares and communities, to give support to demonstrations and strikes against the labour law, and the strikes have held firm.

The contrast with our Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the UK is staggering. The TUC opposed calls by PCS civil servants' union and the Fire Brigades Union for a day of action in support of the striking junior doctors, and opposed calls for coordinated action to defeat the new Trade Union Act, which attempts to undermine all future strikes.

Like French workers, we must exert the maximum pressure on the leaders of the labour movement to force them to act, if we are to roll back the tide of anti-union attacks and rebuild our unions to fight zero-hour contracts, poverty wages and the bosses' dictatorship in the workplace.

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was set up by the RMT transport union to bring together trade union activists and community campaigners. The NSSN annual conference is open to all; it will be held at Conway Hall, London, on 2 July, to debate precisely how we can follow the magnificent lead of French workers to build coordinated strikes to defend our rights at work and oppose austerity.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 1 June 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Shatter the Tories: vote out

Motion passed for no-cuts council budgets

Jobseekers told: take three-hour commute

Public asset sales will lose us money

Stop Ryedale fracking

Blairite baloney

Khan air

Library lie

Them & Us


The BBC

Tories out to knife the BBC


France

France: struggle against government intensifies

France 1936: sit-in strikes

Fighting austerity: French strikes show the way


What we think

Tories tearing themselves apart over EU referendum: vote leave to get Cameron out


Socialist Party workplace news

PCS conference takes serious approach to key political and industrial questions

Could it be 3 strikes and you're out at 2 Sisters?

Welsh Government under attack at Wales TUC conference...and museum strikers close to victory

University lecturers strike for fair pay

Thomas Cook cabin crew to strike over breaks

BIS office closure: Anger and determination to fight on

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Property speculators target Butterfields tenants

Pent Valley campaigners take council to judicial review

George Tomlinson school: Academy fears

Birmingham Labour council takes credit for Tory privatisation

Peterborough PFI palaver

Get a copy of the Socialist from a workplace near you!


International socialist news and analysis

Solidarity with protesters in Kazakhstan

Portugal: Lisbon dockers' victory


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Film: Money Monster

Obituary: Simon Gomery 1968-2016

Letter: Parcel farce


 

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