French workers protest attacks on pensions

Some 370,000 protesters came out in 200 demonstrations throughout France on Sept. 10., showing a groundswell of opposition to the new government-proposed pension “reforms.”

Right-wing governments proposed similar “reforms” in 1993, 1995, 2003, 2007 and 2010 but now that there is a “Socialist” government, headed by President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, European financiers see it as an opportune time to force pension austerity down the throats of French workers.

The Socialist Party in France has a long history of serving French imperialism and the interests of the bourgeoisie. They have justified this law by pointing to the financial crisis in the pension system, at the same time that they are cutting taxes and reducing the amount businesses have to contribute.

The four union federations that called the one-day general strike — the CGT (General Workers Confederation), FO (Workers Force), Solidaire and the FSU (United Union Federation), composed mainly of teachers — say the turnout sets the groundwork for sustained struggles against pension austerity.

Franch’s left parties — the Party of the Left, the French Communist Party and the New Anti-capitalist Party — sent significant contingents to these protests.

FO’s Secretary General Jean-Claude Mailly was quoted in the Sept. 10 newsletter of the Parti Ouvrier Independent: “This is not the tsunami, you cannot get three million people [the turnout in the 2010 protests] out every time. But going beyond the activist circles, it is a good mobilization.”  He noted that the numbers  are higher than those for last spring’s rallies, which drew 200,000 people out to oppose a law imposing “labor flexibility.”

Solidaire has called for follow-up meetings within a week to plan future actions.

While this was a strike, it wasn’t aimed against any particular employer; it was a political strike against a bad parliamentary proposal.