The following article was first published as the editorial of workplace bulletins distributed by members of L’Etincelle (The Spark) faction in France.

July 3, 2017

Facilitate layoffs, limit the period during which workers can file a complaint to the industrial tribunals, cap compensation pay for wrongful dismissal, in short keep workers at the whim of their employers. No surprise, the project allowing the government to rule by decree is clearly aimed against workers. On the other hand, the fact that Macron uses decrees, and his show about social dialog, both show that he is not so confident he can do what he wants. But making speeches in Versailles like the Sun King he wishes to be, is not enough to force his attacks through our throats.

So Macron wants to continue the work started forty years ago by all the successive governments, which have all added legislation that progressively eroded the Labour Code in favour of the bosses… It started in 1977 under Raymond Barre’s government, with so-called “internships” for young people, paid below minimum wage. One year later, encouraged by these first blows, employers started to layoff tens of thousand of workers, in the steel industry and its subcontractors… Since then, attacks have developed further, under left and right wing governments. Including under Hollande, with Macron as Economy Minister.

Macron’s majority in the house comes from only 16.6% of registered voters, in an election where only 38.4% of ballots were cast. But he doesn’t care that he and his representatives got so little support. He plans to impose his policy on the people, using cops and judges if needed… Just like Hollande and Valls did before him, not being very popular either.

Why use decrees? To move fast, he says. In fact, for fear of the reaction of those who did not vote for him (about 70% of all employees).

“Social dialog”: a lie

If it were just for the union confederations leaders, the government wouldn’t have too much to worry about. CGC, UNSA and CFDT have all signed any agreement presented to them. Courted by the government, FO already renounced any kind of mobilisation.

The CGT is the only union that talks about mobilisation and even set up a date for September 12. Nevertheless, the CGT accepts to play the government’s game of social dialog, such as its decision to meet all the unions separately. That’s not exactly sending a declaration of war to the government…

So the government does not particularly fear the unions. Its goal is to ensure the collaboration of the union leaders, in the hope of neutralising us, preventing us from being able to respond.

We can surprise them

It’s obvious the government and the bosses are preparing a range of anti-workers measures. But they cannot put a cop and a judge behind every worker. And we can become their worst nightmare.

What we’re still missing is to coordinate our fights, to appreciate how strong we are, and… to use this strength. The last few years have seen many movements, but never leading to real strikes, that coordinate and become general; that change the political situation and force the government and the bosses to give in for fear of losing everything.

But at least these fights demonstrated that there is plenty of anger, and that many don’t want to accept the setbacks. We will have to build the conditions for out success, without relying on union leaders who play a different game. Just relying on ourselves, on our ability to coordinate with each other, join our demands and our fights, really follow up on the days of action. That’s the only way to win.