Why pensions are a European issue, and why the strike also is (and what you can do to help)
The role of political organisations certainly isn’t to substitute for the workers or their trade unions. However, they may at any time help envisage economic and social struggles in a broader way, in time or space, to open perspectives. The present movement over pensions in France deserves some thinking.
In 2003 a movement over pension schemes happened in France. Through resisting the massive strike, mainly supported by the Education sector, the Fillon government succeeded in pushing back the retirement age for all for the first time. In the same period of three months, similar movements happened in Austria and Italy. The three failed to defeat their respective bosses and political powers.
The Yellow Vests movement, those of the students, of the teachers facing reforms such as the partial suppression of the Baccalauréat, of health workers facing the collapse of public hospitals, of mailmen, of firemen, as much as the wider movement against the counter-reform of pension schemes only appear as scattered because they’re not considered together in a political vision, yet rather evident. A convergence of struggles is said to be created, but all the critical situations in these various sectors, absolutely all are related to the reduction of public expenditure started decades ago by all successive centre-left or centre-right governments, in France or elsewhere. To lower the taxes on the wealthiest, reduce the cost of labour (as with the CICE scheme which gives back their contributions to shareholders), the French State as well as the others in Europe is leading an austerity policy. In some languages it’s simply called “shrinking the State”, through suppressing or privatising public services. All these struggles are in fact one single struggle against governments which are simply the proxies of the company shareholders; In France the president is even a banker. They want to raise their profit while paying less taxes and contributions to the States, which then shrink, accept to spend less and less when populations are still growing and inequality is rising. Less public spending on public services, on health systems, pension schemes, etc.
Divided within every State in various struggles which do not signal their common opponent, and between the various States when the austerity policy wished by all the shareholders of all the European Union is set to music by the European Commission and the Council of the European Union, which are just the union of all the governments, the workers and the populations of Europe have been going from defeat to smokescreen victory for decades. In the same way the unions couldn’t carry away the workers into the strike, other than the railway and tube ones, who performed a proxy strike for all others as they did in 1995, they can’t find a way to signal and confront their real enemy: the governments in the pay of the shareholders united in the European Commission. There has never been an anti-austerity transnational strike worth of its name. It might be about time asking why national struggles don’t pay, or not anymore. DiEM25 intends to take part in this fresh thinking, towards new forms of victorious action. Internationalism isn’t an extra or a whim, it might as well be the necessary condition to take back control of our destiny, in France and elsewhere.
For this reason, local DiEM25 collectives from several European countries have decided to show solidarity by organising events in their communities, and online campaigns calling for workers and citizens of Europe to support their French comrades, by donating to the strikers’ funds – managed by French trade unions.
And you can also show your support. There are dozens of strikers’ funds you can donate to – local, sector-specific, or national; here are some that have received the most media attention:
- Le pot commun– opened by CGT InfoCom’, the largest strikers’ fund (over 2.9 million euros)
- Le Stream Reconductible – French streamers and YouTubers opened a strikers’ fund, and broadcast shows (which you can watch!) about the social movement and the impact of the reform on all sectors of the economy (nearly 150.000 €)
- Solidaires strikers’ funds (national and local)
- Strikers’ funds in the Paris area (Démosphère)
Article by the French National Collective
Fundraising initiative launched by DiEM25 Dublin1 DSC
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