National Sections of the L5I:

France: No to privatisation of the Post, ban all layoffs - we will not pay for their crisis!

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Even if the journalists and politicians agree that there are signs of recovery in the economy and that things will soon get better, what they say is basically worthless, because the social consequences of this crisis of capitalism will be felt for many years to come.

The unemployment rate is at its highest (9.1% population, 252,000 new unemployed since January) and the constant social cuts have been more frequent than in any other country.

The employers, having received a huge injection of capital at unbeatable rates (hundreds of billions to the banks, eight billion for the car industry, two billion for the PME, etc..) from their friends in government, have used it to bail out their profits - while they continue to lay off their workers.

The government has clearly taken the offensive with its anti-worker policies. Its goal: to make the workers pay the costs of the crisis. On the one hand, continued attacks against public services: the abolition of 13,000 posts in education, cuts in the health service, privatisation of the post, the break up of the railway. On the other hand, by its generosity to the bosses, the government has enormously increased the budget deficit - by 140 billion this year alone - and now they want us to repay their debts.

How? After abolishing the wealth tax, introducing a tax shield for the super rich and imposing a ceiling on business taxes, they now want to make the lowest paid make the biggest sacrifices. It is like Robin Hood, but in reverse: stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Who really believes that the carbon tax will be fully restored? Those on low incomes will be particularly hard hit by the increased hospital charges and non-reimbursement of the cost of medicines.

How ever did we get here, when the beginning of the year was marked by huge mobilisations, with workers' struggles and broad movements in the universities and hospitals?

Our main weakness has been our leadership, both at a union and political level. The union leaders have done everything to prevent a major struggle, tous ensemble, all together. Once again, they have hit us with days of action which exhaust us without advancing the struggle. From January to June, there was, on average, one day of action a month, with vague slogans and no real strategy. What the leaders wanted, what they still want, is to be able to negotiate peaceably with the Government, free of pressure from below. They always prefer negotiating away our interests and selling off our assets rather than organising a tougher fight.

The Socialist Party has marginalised itself, lost in its own petty bureaucratic squabbles. It cannot to offer anything to workers. While it may still play an important role in elections, its right-wing reformism seems to be carrying it towards the same electoral disaster as met its sister parties in Germany and Italy.

The French Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche, PG) continue to disguise their own brand of reformism behind an alleged anti-neoliberalism. For all their criticism of the Socialist Party and its neo-liberal policies, that remains their own political horizon, they will not go beyond it. If they want voters on the left it is only to try to exert greater pressure on the PS when it comes to participating in a future government. That explains their insistence on “unity of the left”. For the time being, all they hope for is to use what remains of their electoral support to hang on to their electoral existence, to keep their little party bureaucracies, and especially their lucrative posts as local elected officials. In short, far from focusing on the class struggle and today’s battles to repel the government attacks, their forces are overwhelmingly concerned with preparation for regional elections next year.

Almost two years after the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, LCR) launched the appeal for a new party, and nine months after its founding congress, the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) stands at a crossroads. It has organised and mobilised thousands of radical activists across the country. It has defended a different idea of politics, based on revolution and not on reforms. It has raised the prospect of a political force that will fight resolutely on the side of workers and all the oppressed. However, it has to be said, its record so far, in terms of actions and militant campaigns and, in general, as a mobilising and initiating force, is pretty minimal.

In the winter and spring, it basically went along with the movement. Although it gave visible and important support to workers fighting against the layoffs, it could not, or would not, develop a truly national movement for the occupation of all enterprises declaring redundancies. Although it sometimes advanced the slogan of a general strike, it did not offer workers the tactics, including self-organisation at the level of the rank and file, to impose it across the country, against the betrayals of the union bureaucrats. From the political point of view, the NPA has not proposed a clear action programme to fight for in those struggles.

Worse, a part of the NPA is currently convinced that the central issue of class struggle is ... regional elections! If this rightist wing wins out, the NPA may end up playing the role of a residual left reformist pole with the PCF and the PG. Instead of building a revolutionary political force, the NPA may find itself mired in the worst institutional, apparatus politics, completely inside the system it claims to be fighting against. Of course, this scenario is far from inevitable. But to make sure it doesn’t happen, it is necessary to make the NPA a tool of the class struggle and, more than that, a tool for building a revolutionary party for the seizure of power by the working class. And this must start with the class struggles, here and now.

The NPA can and must play a crucial role in the present struggles. It is the only organised force at a national level that could give a clear perspective to the movement, in particular, becoming
the organiser and builder of a generalised wave of struggle. The NPA should focus, above all, on the two major battles this autumn, the privatisation of the Post and social cuts and plant closures.

The government's decision to transform the Post into a limited company shows its commitment to enforcing its slogans. In other countries, privatisation of utilities has been synonymous with increased charges and lower quality for users, worse working conditions and increased exploitation for the workers. It is a real provocation that the government has continued with privatisation, when this crisis has shown that the capitalist system is outdated, completely unsustainable and unable to meet the most pressing needs of society.

The events of September 22 and the polls show that it is possible to mobilise on a huge scale the workers and the people who use the services every day. We must not only fight against the proposed privatisation but also to stop the job losses, the outsourcing and the sub-contracting. All postal staff must enjoy the same official status and the same benefits.

In all districts, we must form committees of postal workers and users against privatisation. The demand for a referendum on the question is a trap; we must not fall into it. The way to force the government to give in is through mobilisations, demonstrations, struggles and, eventually, mass strikes.

The recent struggles at Continental, Freescale etc have shown that there are workers who are prepared to fight to defend their jobs. Other struggles of this kind will undoubtedly arise in the coming months. We have to make sure they do not remain isolated. Opposition to all layoffs must not remain a slogan that is only rolled out during election campaigns. It is the demand to fight for in every conflict of this type. It is vital that every fight against closure turns into a strike and an occupation. In every city, we can form committees to support these struggles.

In this way, we can build bridges of solidarity between workers on different sites and take forward a struggle by everyone. We must ensure that all these struggles grow into a generalised mass movement with the slogan "We will not pay for their crisis!” We must demand a series of measures and emergency plans against social cuts and mass unemployment. We must demand that the unions organise huge, united demonstrations, which could be the fulcrum for creating this movement. But we must also be willing to organise these days of action ourselves, at rank and file level, if the bureaucrats are not ready to do it or, worse, if they boycott the movement.

To mobilise as widely as possible, so that our struggles can converge on a common basis, we must advance an emergency programme of simple and necessary demands whose application can be imposed by workers in struggle.

Strikes and occupations of all factories faced with closure. Not a single sacking. Build active solidarity with our comrades in struggle.

Nationalisation of all banks and enterprises that declare lay-offs, without compensation and under workers' control.

An immediate increase in wages of €300 for all. Increase the minimum wage to €1,500 after deductions!

Stop all plans for privatisation of the public services and, specifically, the Post.

No loss of jobs in the National Education system. Stop the creeping privatisation of the
Universities with the LRU. Send the school reforms where they belong: into the rubbish bin!

An emergency plan under the supervision of workers to build public housing, schools and hospitals.

Requisition all empty homes.

For a massive increase in taxes for the rich and large firms

Force an end to insecurity and low pay in employment. Transform all
the CSD and other short term jobs into full paid and permanent employment.

Residence and citizenship papers for all our immigrant comrades!
Repeal of all racist laws. Open the borders!