Apr 14 2018

FRENCH PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNDER ATTACK

We are posting this article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) about the attacks the French Macron government is launching on French rail workers. As the world retreats behind new national state barriers, France inside the EU seeks to pave the way for private capital to match those already achieved by its major competitor the USA, and a new competitor, soon to be outside the EU, the UK.

 

FRENCH PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS UNDER ATTACK

French public sector workers on strike on March 22nd

In France the Macron Government has set in motion plans for the destruction of the terms and conditions of approximately 150,000 workers in the national rail network, the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF). The level of workers’ anger has produced an impressive response. The major unions involved have been forced into putting forward plans for industrial action and in a show of unity 13 organisations on the left have presented a joint statement of solidarity.

Huge protests took place on March 22nd in many cities and towns which mobilised almost half a million public service workers, not just railway workers but other services under threat, regional public transport employees, hospital and care home workers, Air traffic controllers and Air France employees. These were not token protests but were intended as a prelude to, rather than as a substitute for, the  campaign of industrial action which commenced on April 3rd  with a further 34 days of strike action planned over the next three months. Each Strike will last two days with a return to work for three days on a rolling basis with suggestions by one of the unions involved, SUD-Rail, of the need for an all out strike at that point.

Their plans for the defence of jobs and services has provoked a furious onslaught. Attempts to turn private sector workers against public sector workers are dominating the media. The railway workers find themselves on the receiving end of aggressive tactics, familiar to Irish public transport workers, portraying them as pampered, overpaid and  enjoying benefits that the rest of the working class don’t.  TV discussion programmes have dropped all pretense at objectivity with representatives of workers’ organisations receiving such a hectoring from fellow panelists and a carefully selected audience of “angry commuters” that they are practically prevented from presenting their case.

Macron’s “Thatcher moment”

The capitalist drive to increase profitability by increasing the rate of exploitation of labour has in Ireland given us a “recovery” which is clearly at the expense of the working class. This same assault has been much weaker in France. The share of GDP going to wages has dropped dramatically in Ireland, down more that 10% by 2016. In Latvia it is down over 18%, in Greece 14% while in Germany the drop has only been 0.9%. Italy has fallen 0.6% but due to stalwart resistance the working class of France has been the least affected by austerity with only an 0.2% increase in exploitation.

Public sector workers in the strongest central European powers have been left relatively intact but now the assault on the working class, well progressed in the more peripheral countries, is making its way towards the core of Europe. This is a calculated set-piece assault by Macron. The French bourgeoisie, on the back of Macron’s popular support, and driven by the need to increase profitability has decided to take on the workers, to test their strength and to attempt to pressurise the union bureaucrats into making concessions without too much of a fight.

A section of the French labour bureaucracy is aware of this. Bruno Poncet of the SUD-Rail union has said: “The government wants a trial of strength. It’s moving to try us out. It wants this test because it knows if it wins, the last resistance will have been overcome”. There is no doubt that this is an important struggle. If the railway workers are defeated or their bureaucracy sells them out it would be a set back for the entire European working class. Privatisation of public assets and an increase in the exploitation of labour will increase across the board and could retard the class struggle for years to come, indeed with the struggle falling symbolically on the 50th anniversary of the 1968 uprising Macron sees it as his “Thatcher moment”, a reference to the miners strike.

Solidarity

Solidarity is essential and not just between different sections of the working class and students in France. This is a struggle which can inflame the workers of Europe. The attack on the French rail workers is the application of the same economic logic that is behind the attacks on Irish workers pay and conditions and is a general attack on the European working class. If the rail workers are defeated the attack moves to the next phase where the weakest sections of workers are picked off one at a time as assaults on German and Italian workers are prepared.

Broader swathes of the working class are being brought into the struggle and the material conditions for increased workers’ unity in action are being strenghened by this accellerating drive to increase the exploitation of labour and restore profitability in the core European countries.  A drive that has remained unchallenged in Ireland by the pro-capitalist leadership of the Irish trade union movement who carefully fit their “demands” within the ‘fiscal space’ of the EU’s recovery plans and meekly accept pension cuts, two tier pay and privatisation.

Rank and file workers must demand that this acceptance ends. Teachers are once again preparing to challenge the exploitative two tier pay system and the transport workers’ struggles that dominated much of 2017 and were repeatedly sold out by the leadership  have not gone away. The attacks the SNCF workers  are now suffering is driven by the same capitalist strategy for recovery that lay behind the attacks on public transport, health, education and air transport workers in Ireland, largely the same cross section of the working class that was visable on the French demonstrations of March 22nd.

All the issues at Earnrod Eireann, and the privatisation of Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus routes are still in the frame and will come to the fore all the more aggressively if Macron is victorious.  Airport workers and pilots have also lately been in action and as the Ryanair recognition struggle illustrated are ideally placed to build international solidarity with French airline workers and Air Traffic Controllers.

Conditions are improving for a vast mobilisation of the working class. A victory for the French Rail workers would be instrumental in raising the confidence of the greater European working class, it would dispel the myth that the workers have no alternative other than accept the capitalist strategy for ‘recovery’  favoured by the ICTU bureaucracy who hold firmly to that position and a victory would help break their grip on the rank and file of the Irish unions.

Victory to the SNCF workers!

4.4.18

 

This article was first posted at:-

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentFrenchPublicSectorWorkersUnderAttack.html

 

 

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Aug 06 2017

TRUMP SAYS, “SCOTLAND JUST WENT THROUGH HELL”

The following article by Allan Armstrong was a first posted on the bella caledonia blog at:- http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/08/04/trump-says-scotland-went-through-hell/

 

TRUMP SAYS, “SCOTLAND JUST WENT THROUGH HELL”.
BUT THAT NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT HE HAS PLANNED FOR US

 

Trump has tweeted his opposition to Scottish independence. “Is Scotland going for the vote, by the way. It would be terrible. They just went through hell”. Hell being IndyRef1, and not the Brexit campaign that contributed to the murder of Jo Cox MP, and Jacub Rusiecki, factory worker, or the suicide of 16 year old Dagmara Przybysz after racist bullying; nor the spike in physical attacks and racist harassment following the Brexit vote. Trump supported Brexit and saw his own election to the US presidency as ‘Brexit plus, plus, plus’. Continue reading “TRUMP SAYS, “SCOTLAND JUST WENT THROUGH HELL””

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Dec 03 2016

WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?

Allan Armstrong, of the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party, draws some political conclusions from the online discussion (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/11/20/from-farages-brexit-to-trumps-brexit-plus-plus-plus-and-on-to-madame-frexit/)  of the political situation in the UK in the aftermath of the Trump vote. 

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WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’? 

a) Brexit and the change in British ruling class thinking

Since the Brexit vote, the Tories, under Theresa May’s leadership, have been moving away from the recently shared politics of the majority of the British ruling class and mainstream British political parties. A central feature of these politics was based upon the globalised neo-liberal economics pushed by Margaret Thatcher, in the interests of a turbo-charged City of London. The City had really taken off after Nigel Lawson’s ‘Big Bang’ deregulation in 1983. Following New Labour’s 1996 election victory, they adopted the same unquestioning pro-City path. This was shown when Chancellor Gordon Brown abolished the few remaining government controls over the City’s operations. Under Tony Blair, Butskellism gave way to Blatcherism.
Continue reading “WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?”

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Sep 21 2015

CENTENARY OF THE ZIMMERWALD MANIFESTO

It is the centenary of the publication of the Zimmerwald Manifesto. This was produced by social democratic delegates from  countries drawn into the imperialist First World War. Chris Ford of the Ukrainian Solidarity Campaign provides an introduction to this important document. He shows the relevance of the Zimmerwald Manifesto to the situation we face today, particularly Ukraine. 

CENTENARY OF THE ZIMMERWALD MANIFESTO

zimmerwald-booklet-2

 

One hundred years ago an International Socialist Conference of those opposed to the First World War gathered in Zimmerwald, near Bern Switzerland from 5 to 8 September 1915. At a time when the international socialist movement had shattered with many supporting the war  the conference at Zimmerwald by those who emained faithfull to the principles of the socialist international offered a beacon of hope in a Europe gripped by war and reaction.  The International socialist conference began a movement around the Manifesto which it produced.
Continue reading “CENTENARY OF THE ZIMMERWALD MANIFESTO”

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Jul 18 2015

A VERY CAPITALIST COUP

The article below is a follow up from the World to Win blog (see http://www.aworldtowin.net/blog/a-very-capitalist-coup.html), from the one posted after the Greek referendum on July 5th. The humiliation enforced on the people of  Greece by the ECB backed by the EU bureaucracy will have a bearing on politics throughout Europe. It remains to be seen how the Syriza government’s capitulation will be received amongst those most affected in Greece. However, it is now abundantly clear that promoting bankers’ coups is European corporate capital’s favoured method of dealing with any challenge to their rule. This provides a wake-up call to socialists of the necessity for our own coordinated international response.

 

Reaction in Athens to Syriza government's capitulation to ECB and EU bureaucracy

Reaction in Athens to Syriza government’s capitulation to ECB and EU bureaucracy

 

The political and economic humiliation heaped upon Greece by the major European capitalist states led by Germany has shocked people around the world. The hashtag #ThisIsACoup trended on Twitter as global cyber-anger reflected what in essence had taken place.
Continue reading “A VERY CAPITALIST COUP”

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Mar 25 2015

DEFINING REPUBLICANISM

John Tummon (Republican Socialist Alliance) responds to Murdo Ritchie’s (RCN) Promoting Republicanism (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/promoting-republicanism/)

Murdo Ritchie’s ‘Promoting Republicanism’ is a very important contribution to something we Republican Socialists need to keep working on until we have a theoretically rigorous and internally-tested critique of the poverty of any socialist analysis that fails to incorporate a full understanding of democracy and republicanism; only when this is in place can we think about breaking through to a position of genuine influence on the Left, let alone wider society outside of Scotland.

I see Murdo’s ‘Promoting Republicanism’ as a key stage in that development – and a very welcome one at that – and my comments, including my attempted development of aspects of what Murdo has written, are put forward in that spirit. What I increasingly find is that the most interesting left thinking in Britain comes from Republican Socialists, which was born out by the impressive quality of discussion at the recent RSA AGM in London; much of what passes as debate within the rest of the British (certainly the English) Left is stale repetition and, within Left Unity, the recycling of stale certainties from past eras in the name of ‘doing politics differently’. Unless we think politics differently, a failed practice will recur.

Continue reading “DEFINING REPUBLICANISM”

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Feb 24 2015

PROMOTING REPUBLICANISM

Murdo Ritchie (RCN) wrote the following article for  supporters of the Republican Socialist alliance. It was first also posted on Murdo’s blog  at  http://murdoritchie.blog.co.uk/2015/02/13/promoting-republicanism-20090169/.

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PROMOTING REPUBLICANISM

Thomas Paine - republican internationalist in England, USA and France

Thomas Paine – republican internationalist in England, USA and France

The advocacy of socialist republicanism has very few precedents in the United Kingdom. While many organisations can make claims to republicanism, in most cases this has been rarely developed and has often seemed like it was added on as an extra to more immediately pressing concerns. It should be no real surprise that an anti-political, economic reductionism (economism), or a separatism that sought an end to London rule, and many other perspectives have used the term emptying it of any real understanding or meaning.

Continue reading “PROMOTING REPUBLICANISM”

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Aug 15 2014

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF COUNTER-REVOLUTION

Kool34 sent us a comment on the articles in our recent bulletin on the First World War (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/08/09/emancipation-liberation-special-bulletin-the-centenary-of-the-world-war-i-imperialist-slaughter/#more-7342). This comment invited us to read the following article by Mark Kosman. We are pleased to draw this to the attention of our readers.

th-14  

In 1871, Karl Marx wrote that governments use war as a fraud, a “humbug, intended to defer the struggle of the classes” (1). In 1914, that fraud was so effective that not only most workers, but also most Marxists, supported their respective nation’s rush to war. Ever since then, governments have used war to defer class struggle and prevent revolution. But this strategy cannot last forever.

Continue reading “ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF COUNTER-REVOLUTION”

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Aug 09 2014

EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION Special Bulletin – The Centenary of the World War I Imperialist Slaughter

 

WORLD WAR I – THE CATASTROPHIC RESULT OF IMPERIALIST RIVALRIES

 

th-6

 On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip, A Serbian nationalist, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire. This incident sparked World War I, that soon engulfed much of the world and led to the deaths of millions of soldiers, and millions of civilians.

Continue reading “EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION Special Bulletin – The Centenary of the World War I Imperialist Slaughter”

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May 13 2014

UKRAINE – Caught between East and West

 

The Republican Communist Network is co-sponsoring a series of meetings in Scotland about the current situation in Ukraine. Below we are posting the leaflet that has been circulated at various events.

th-13

 

Ukraine is at the brink of war. It is being pulled apart by imperialist forces, from the East, Russian forces and from the West, NATO, the EU and the USA.

How did it get to this and what has happened to socialist and progressive voices on both sides of Ukraine?

Zakhar Popovych from the Ukrainian Left Opposition and form the Maidan Square protest will be flying to Scotland to give an eye-witness account of the latest developments and offer a socialist analysis of events so far. During his talk he will be addressing the following questions:

 

*    What is the best way to defend a multi-ethnic Ukraine?

*    What has been the role of both Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs in creating the situation that allows ethnic nationalist politics to dominate?

*    How to maintain opposition to both US-NATO and Russian intervention and support for Ukrainian neutrality?

*    How can the voices of ordinary workers be heard as the country descends into war?

 

DUNDEE

Friday, 16th May, 7.30 pm

Queens Hotel

Nethergate

DD1 4DU

________

EDINBURGH

Saturday, 17th May, 4.00 pm

Augustine United Church

George IV Bridge

EH1 1EL

____________

GLASGOW

Sunday, May 18th, 2.00 pm

Jurys Inn

80, Jamaica Street

G1 4QG

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also see

republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/05/01/what-may-day-means-in-the-ukraine-crisis/

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/04/12/invitation-to-the-left-and-maidan-in-kiev-12th-13th-april/

  http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/03/07/ukraine-a-statement-from-awukiev/

 

 

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