If the speech that Macron gave this last Wednesday was an incredible exercise in denial of reality, the day of this last Thursday will have (perhaps) returned a part of the Government to reality. He hoped that the radicalization would only affect minority segments of the movement, which sought to assimilate “factionists”, and that the approval of the reform by the decree called 49-3 (due to the anti-democratic article of the constitution that bears that number), would end by demoralize the millions of workers on strike and in the streets since January 19. The image at the end of the day was exactly the opposite.
Three and a half million protesters in the country, according to the CGT, as many or more than the massive mobilization of March 7, record demonstrations in many cities. Paris (800,000) to Bordeaux (110,000), via Toulon (10,000), Bayonne (24,000) or Bourgoin-Jallieu (8,000). The mobilization continues to be massive, and is even growing in many cities. Above all, everywhere the marches were marked by tendencies to overflow, with departures from inter-union routes that led to highway blockades or demonstrations that escaped what was strictly regulated by the workers’ unions, in cities as different as Chambéry, Metz , Lyon, Le Havre or Guéret.
A central element of this dynamic is the qualitative reinforcement of the presence of young people. While the renewable strike is maintained in different strategic sectors – from petrochemicals to energy, including the main road operator in France (SNCF) and waste collectors – and the mobilization has rebounded in workers of the public transport company ( the RATP), the university assemblies are becoming more and more massive, as are the youth marches. In Toulouse, on Wednesday, there were more than a thousand in an interfaculty, as well as in the Assembly of Tolbiac or in that of the Paul Valéry university on Thursday. Everywhere, new institutes and establishments are mobilized, sometimes in unprecedented ways. A trend towards massification that was reflected in the mobilizations of young people throughout France.
In this way, a black scenario for the government becomes a reality: far from developing outside the mass movement, as some analysts want to make believe in an interested way, radicalism and spontaneity develop at the heart of the mobilization, among millions of workers and youth, based on their experience with inter-union politics and as a reaction to an authoritarian power, whose 49-3 seemed to be the greatest provocation.
The Châtillon wildcat strike, the closure of the Normandy refinery or the multiplication of spontaneous demonstrations after this offensive, have already testified to these profound subjective changes. Today it is shown that these tendencies exist on a large scale, while 79% of workers and 62% of the population consider that the movement must toughen up to win.
The inter-union maintains an institutional strategy that is totally impotent to respond to the challenges of the situation and win.
His policy, expressed in his latest statement, of “going” to the Constitutional Council or to propose a way out through a “shared initiative referendum” it is a blind alley to harden the relationship of forces and it seems more and more out of step with respect to the state of mind of the street and of the sectors on strike. The same is true of the call for a simple additional inter-professional day on March 28, without any mention of the generalization of the strike, the repression or the requisitions of the petrochemical strikers in Fos-sur-Mer and Gonfreville-l’Orcher. (Requisitions are a legal weapon of the French state to force workers to break a strike under threat of six months in prison and a 10,000-euro fine. -N. de T.)
More than ever it is possible to defeat a weakened Executive Branch, but for this a radically different strategy is necessary, capable of responding to the tasks on the agenda. However, it is necessary to continue demanding a change of course from the inter-union, it is not possible to wait, and we must face all the challenges of the situation.
In the first place, we have to support the sectors that are on strike and prolong them. One of the strengths of the movement is that it takes place within the framework of powerful renewable strikes, which are already causing shortages at gas stations and airports and disrupting economic activity. They must be continued and amplified, involving all sectors of the world of work and massively mobilizing young people to support them. This means finally starting to discuss a list of demands that meets our needs.
At the same time, in the face of the government’s repressive policies, it is urgent to organize solidarity. Against the requisitions, we have to be hundreds of thousands together with the refiners, the waste collectors and the energy workers, joining, for example, the pickets of the Normandy or Fos-sur-Mer refineries, or the blockades of Parisian collectors. Faced with police repression, we must guarantee solidarity in the marches and in front of the police stations, so that no protester, young person or worker, feels intimidated by the state violence unleashed in recent days.
All these tasks imply organizing at the base, between workers, unionized or not, from different sectors and the youth. And this is the main weakness at the moment: the organizational frameworks outside the university and company assemblies are still too limited. To meet all the challenges that arise, it will be crucial to resolve this issue. This was insisted upon by the numerous workers gathered Tuesday night in the General Strike Network. In an appeal published on Wednesday, they called for the creation of general strike action committees everywhere, to bring together all those who want to build the general strike and defeat Macron.
A central perspective, on which the possibility of building another strategy to succeed depends. These tasks must become a priority of the movement.