Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/507/3341

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 October 2007

France: : Biggest public transport strike action since 1995

"REMEMBER THIS date: October 18, 2007. On this day, Nicolas Sarkozy's five year term will really begin", the conservative newspaper Le Figaro wrote in an editorial. "Here comes the confrontation that could define his presidency."

Karl Debbaut, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

Le Figaro is both wrong and right. On Thursday 18 October the French president Sarkozy did face the first national strike of his five month presidency. It is more likely though that these are the opening skirmishes in a longer battle to defeat not only the current plans but the wholesale introduction of neo-liberal measures attacking the whole of the working class.

The issue around which the strikes centred was the so-called "special privileges" of certain public sector workers (notably at the state railway SNCF, the Paris underground workers and the employees of electricity and gas suppliers EDF and GDF) for whom the retirement age is 50 or 55.

Divide and rule

As part of the right-wing's strategy to divide the working class, pitting public-sector workers against other public-sector workers and private-sector workers, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy has deliberately sought to present these 500,000 employees as privileged and "undeserving".

They are being blamed by Sarkozy for the deficit in the pension funds and all the other things that are wrong with the French economy. This, by the way, while the first act of the Sarkozy government was to vote €13 billion in tax cuts for the rich.

What most media, in France and internationally, fail to mention is that the pension arrangements for the train-drivers and train attendants are a lot worse than for workers in the private sector. Workers at the national rail company pay on average more social contributions (40%, against 28% in the private sector) and get a proportionally lower pension in relation to their last received wage than in the private sector (67%, against on average 84% in the private sector).

Not that this should be the main argument to defend public-sector pensions, but even if these workers only contribute to the pension fund for 34 years while private-sector workers contribute for 40 years, the former still pay more.

Workers face a situation, because of repeated measures to undermine the basic wages, where they are dependent on bonuses (for overtime, weekend-work, or hazardous work) to make up a living wage. According to a recent study such bonuses make up 23% of the wages.

The mobilisation for this strike confirms that workers have understood this is not only about defending the pensions of 500,000 public-sector workers. All commentators had to agree that the strike was a great success.

It was the biggest transport strike since 1995. Even Sarkozy must have thought back to that year when four weeks of strikes defeated the then Chirac-Juppé government that wanted to introduce similar reforms.

According to the trade union federation CGT, and despite the almost complete standstill of public transport, 300,000 people took part in demonstrations across the country.

Divorce

The French government tried to overshadow the news of the strikes by announcing the same day that Nicolas Sarkozy's marriage had ended in divorce from his estranged wife Cécilia. As the news spread on the demonstrations, workers in the seaport town of Le Havre shouted "Cécilia, we are like you! We are fed up with Nicolas!"

This strike represents a first step in a longer struggle to defeat Sarkozy's plans to introduce strike breaking measures such as the 'minimum service in public transport' law (to become law on 1 January 2008), the announced reduction of 22,843 public service jobs, the first steps towards privatisation of health care and the proposal to expel 25,000 'illegal' immigrants.

The trade union movement and politically active workers have to prepare a plan of action to defeat neo-liberalism. They will need to break the divide and rule strategy of the French ruling class by outlining a socialist alternative and a strategy to advance the struggle.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 25 October 2007:

Public health not private wealth

Join the 3 November NHS demonstration

NHS: What the Socialist Party says

March to save the NHS

Michael Moore's latest film 'Sicko' reviewed

Huddersfield SOS: Class fighters' bold initiative


Postal dispute

Reject Royal Mail deal: Vote 'No' and reinstate the action

Striking Liverpool postal workers return to work


Campaign for a New Workers Party

Why workers need a new party

Respect in crisis - what lessons for socialists?


Socialism 2007

Socialism 2007


Socialist Party feature

Pakistan: Suicide bombings at Bhutto rally


International socialist news and analysis

Turkey's invasion threat increases regional instability

Release Saburi Akande Akinola, Taiwo Hassan Soweto and Olatunde Dairo now

France: Biggest public transport strike action since 1995


Socialist Party women

Do women still have the 'right to choose'?


Socialist Party news and analysis

Liberal Democrat leadership: Two candidates, one background, no answers

Classroom assistants challenge the Stormont Assembly

Who's to blame for teenage obesity?


Workplace news and analysis

Glasgow: On strike for a fair deal

Train drivers prepare for action

Fight Cadbury's factory closure

Teachers' union election – time to change!

BBC threatens hundreds of jobs


 

Home   |   The Socialist 25 October 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Strike:

triangleTower Hamlets council strike

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

triangleThe Tyneside apprentices' strike during WW2

trianglePlymouth students discuss rent strike

triangleRefuse collection workers strike

Transport:

triangleFight continues for safety on London buses

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleTransport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

triangleNo increase in transport capacity without adequate safety precautions

Public transport:

triangleNationalise the railways: For an integrated public transport system

triangleBristol North Socialist Party: Public transport congestion. Where now?

triangleUnions must fight to make bus drivers and passengers safe

France:

triangleReform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?

triangleFrance: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes

Sarkozy:

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

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

1/7/20

Fighting Fund

Fighting Fund: Target smashed by half time

1/7/20

Equity

Equity union president elections: re-elect Maureen

1/7/20

PCS

Change in leadership needed to secure union's future

1/7/20

Black Lives Matter

BLM has not stopped - protesters flock to Socialists

1/7/20

Ken Douglas

Red flags line road for Ken

1/7/20

Leeds

Leeds City Council in danger of bankruptcy

1/7/20

Socialist

socialism2020

1/7/20

The Socialist

Selling the Socialist

1/7/20

Cardiff

Cardiff community fights nursery closure: Council must step in

1/7/20

NSSN

Come to the NSSN conference

1/7/20

Sunday trading

Sunday trading: Government blinks first

1/7/20

Equity

Equity: Solidarity with Maxine Peake

1/7/20

Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets council strike

1/7/20

Ministry of Justice

MoJ cleaners' covid outbreak

26/6/20

Ken Douglas

Memorial funds for Ken Douglas and Mick Cotter

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999