Whilst Britain’s postal workers are waiting to see if the high court will accept the CWU’s appeal against Royal Mail’s injunction forbidding them to embark on a strike for which members had voted in overwhelming numbers, and whilst British workers generally are being told by their union leaders to grit their teeth and pray for a Corbyn government, workers in France are steaming ahead with plans to bring the country to a standstill from 5 December in a mass challenge to President Emmanuel Macron’s attack on their pensions and retirement rights.
Now that the yellow vest movement has chalked up its first year of weekly protests, maintained in defiance of a heavy police repression that left many hospitalised, progressive trade unions are picking up the class struggle baton in the battle to prevent President Macron’s proposed evisceration of the existing pension arrangements, won in struggle over many years.
As 5 December approaches, more and more unions are pledging to join an unlimited strike, threatening to paralyse public transport, schools and hospitals.
Civil servants and teachers are answering the strike call, as are staff at Air France and the major energy supplier EDF. With signal staff out, all trains travelling inside and through France should be disrupted, including Eurostar services between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
In Paris itself, the underground is likely to be hit hard, as will the city’s buses.
The French parliament is not due to discuss Macron’s pension ‘reforms’ until the summer, but the workers have their own timetable and are not letting the grass grow under their feet.
Moreover, if the strike fulfils its potential to bring together militant sections of organised labour with the yellow vest movement, Macron may find even a bit of back-peddling won’t be enough to get France’s workers off the street.
British workers, take note.