Photo Credits: Demonstration of February 19 in Toulouse / Permanent Revolution Toulouse
January 19 produced a strong day of interprofessional strike against pension reform. If the strike is very well attended in sectors such as education, transport or energy, many private sector employees are taking action.
Although it is impossible to have an accurate view of the rate of private sector strikers on a national scale, the processions in different cities allow to infer an important mobilization in this sector. Indeed, while strike rates in the civil service and state-owned enterprises were equal to or slightly lower than on December 5, 2019, 500,000 more demonstrators demonstrated across France on January 19.
From what can be concluded that the mobilization of the private sector is important, confirming the testimonies of many correspondents of Permanent Revolution in the processions of many cities.
An unprecedented mobilization in the private sector
After leading a weeks-long strike for autonomous wages, Total Energies employees are back on the move in a big way. On the refineries side, the rates of strikers are impressive, for example 100% of CDIs striking in Donges (Loire-Atlantique) and La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône). Various petrochemical industries such as Total Carling in the Moselle were also strongly mobilized a similar situation for the transportation of petroleum products and depots.
To this were added strikers from many companies in the metallurgical industry. In Metz, Christian Porta of CGT Neuhauser claims that there is ” never seen so many small metallurgical companies mobilized, especially in such a radical discourse “. In the Lyon demonstration, you can see the employees of the industrial Solvay or the automobile Renault Trucks. The metallurgy giant SKF also saw its employees mobilized while in Valenciennes, huge processions of PSAs and Toyotas filled the streets. For PSA” in Mulhouse the CGT announces 500 strikers while at the SevelNord site 400 employees mobilized, this is almost unheard of for an interprofessional mobilization date said Vincent Duse, from CGT PSA Mulhouse.
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Aeronautics is also there. In Toulouse, 35 busloads of strikers left the factories of aeronautical giant Airbus to join the demonstration. Thalès could also count the hundreds of employees present at the demonstration. Gaëtan Gracia, activist CGT Ateliers Haute-Garonne (Toulouse aeronautical subcontractor) testifies to an unprecedented mobilization in some companies: ” in Latécoère, some sites like Gimont (Gers) have almost a hundred strikers out of 200 employees “. In Safran, Jenny Grandet of the CGT in Le Havre talks about a strike followed by employees we have never seen before, even in hierarchies ». At Dassault, union sources say, strike rates have never been so high in 20 years.
In Le Havre, we can see important processions of workers : employees of Yara, a fertilizer producer, of Fouré Lagadec, an industrial mechanical maintenance company, but also of the multinational agrifood company Nestlé. live from the event, Richard Metayer, of CGT Sidel, speaks of a strong mobilization with at least 200 workers on strike at the Octeville-sur-Mer site of the world leader in packaging. In Saint Nazaire, another city marked by its working class composition, the demonstration brought together more than 17,000 strikers for a population of less than 70,000 people. The mobilization is strong in the shipyards, in Airbus, in the dockers or even in Cargill.
In Calais, the procession included employees of Alcatel-Lucent telecommunicationsIn Lyon, Strikers from Castorama are also pounding the pavement. Even more unusual, some processions of construction workers are also included in the game, such as in Toulouse or Laurent of CGT construction proves that : ” some comrades on construction sites who had never been on strike in their lives wanted to join the movement. »
In other words, this strong mobilization of the private sector is unprecedented. In previous major strikes against pension reform in 1995 or 2010, it was these very sectors that were missing from the battle. Now, as Gaetan Gracia of the CGT AHG said live from the demonstration in Toulouse, because of this first day of the general strike: ” We have gold in our hands, now we need a battle plan “.
After the first day of the general strike, what’s next for the mobilization?
If this first day was a great success, the question now arises what is the follow-up to the mobilization. All the demonstrators who were present on Thursday all knew that one day of strike was not enough to bring back Macron. As a perspective, the inter-union announced a new date of January 31. An isolated date that shows that the strategy of the inter-union, led by Laurent Berger, remains a strategy of pressure on the government, and not a strategy in betting on developing a balance of power against employers and government.
Building such a balance of power can only be built using the strike as a tool, and the renewable as a modality. In this sense, the strategy outlined by the refiners, with strike calls for 48 hours, then 72 hours on February 6, can allow private sector employees to gather strength and prepare for a renewable strike at the beginning of February.
After the strike on January 19, many calls in this direction are emerging: CGT education and SUD education are calling for a renewable strike from January 31, and CGT energy is calling to join the dates set by the refiners .
To go further: Pensions: what to do after the massive success of the mobilization on January 19?
For a truly general strike to take place, the presence of the private sector, beyond the oil workers, will be decisive. However, in order to involve the great mass of the country’s precarious employees, who are often paid barely more than the SMIC, it will be necessary to expand the claims, and to form a real political general strike against the government, where the inter -union. which is limited to withdrawing the pension reform.
The question of indexing salaries to inflation, and their immediate increase of €400 for everyone is therefore more burning than ever, to be able to finish the month like a person’s career. The strike funds will also play an important role for all employees who do not have the luxury of going on strike days without a future: to hold a renewable strike, it is necessary to bring unity to the game. Above all, to carry out all these tasks, the formation of general meetings in companies and interprofessional general meetings will be decisive, to link public and private companies, and to work towards the generality of the strike.