We are publishing a call to arms to workers of the world by participants in the "General Assembly Gare de l'Est and Île de France" against the worldwide wave of imposed austerity measures.
To the workers, unemployed, and students of Europe
We are a group of workers from different industries and sectors (railway workers, teachers, tech workers, casuals...), both in work and unemployed. During the recent strikes in France, we came together to form an All Trades General Assembly, first on one of the platforms of the Gare de l’Est (mainline station in Paris), then in a room at the “Bourse du Travail”. Our aim was to bring together as many workers as possible from towns in the Paris region. Because we had had enough of the unions’ class collaboration, leading us yet again to yet another defeat, we wanted to organise by ourselves to try to unify the different sectors on strike, to spread the strike, and to have the strikers themselves control their own movement.
Against the capitalists’ social war, the workers must wage a class war
In Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, France... everywhere we are under heavy attack. Our living conditions are getting worse.
In Britain, the Cameron government has announced that 500,000 jobs are to go in the public sector, £7bn of cuts are planned in social budgets, university fees have tripled, etc...
In Ireland, the Cowen government has just lowered the minimum hourly wage by 1 euro (more than 10%), and pensions by 9%.
In Portugal, workers are facing record unemployment. In Spain, the thoroughly “socialist” Zapatero is cutting everywhere: unemployment benefit, social security, health...
In France, the government continues to break up our living conditions. After our pensions, comes the health service. Access to health care is getting more and more difficult and expensive: more and more drugs are no longer reimbursed, health care plans are increasing their charges, hospitals are cutting down on staff. Like all the other public services (the Post Office, gas and electricity, telecoms), the health service is being broken up and privatised. As a result, millions of working class families are unable to get care!
This policy is vital for the capitalists. Faced with the development of the crisis and the collapse of whole sectors of the capitalist economy, they find it more and more difficult to find markets where their capital can make a profit. They are therefore all the more in a hurry to privatise public services.
However, these new markets offer fewer productive outlets than do the pillars of the world economy like construction, oil, or the car industry. Even in the most favourable circumstances, they will not allow the economy to take off again.
In this context of general collapse, the fight for markets between the great international trusts will be ever more bitter. It will be a question of life or death for the investors of capital. In this struggle, every capitalist will take refuge behind his state to defend himself. In the name of the defence of the national economy, the capitalists will try to drag us into their economic war.
In this war, the victims are always... the workers. For behind the defence of the national economy, every national ruling class, every state, every boss will try to reduce “costs” in order to maintain their “competitiveness”. Concretely, they will not stop attacking our living and working conditions. If we let them get away with it, if we agree to “tighten our belts”, there will be no end to these sacrifices. They will end up putting our very lives in question!
Workers, let us refuse to let ourselves be divided by trade, by branch, or by nation. Let us refuse to wage this economic war within or across national borders. Let us fight together, and unite in struggle! Never were Marx’s words more urgent: “Workers of all countries, unite!”
It is up to us workers to control our own struggles
Today, it is the workers in Greece and Spain, the students in Britain, who are in struggle against governments which – whether right or left – are the servants of the ruling classes. And just like us in France, you are up against governments which do not hesitate to use violent repression against the workers, the unemployed, the university and school students.
This autumn in France, we tried to defend ourselves. We went into the streets by millions to refuse to accept this new attack. We fought against the new law on pensions, and against all the austerity measures which we are subjected to. We said “No!” to the rise in poverty and casualisation.
But the Intersyndicale (joint committee of the unions at national and local level, translator’s note) intentionally led us to defeat by fighting against any extension of the strike movement:
- instead of breaking down the barriers between trades and branches to unite workers, it kept the mass meetings in each workplace closed to other workers;
- it undertook spectacular actions to “block the economy” but did nothing to organise strike pickets or flying pickets which might have drawn other workers into the struggle – which is what some workers and casuals tried to do;
- it negotiated our defeat behind our backs, and behind the closed doors of cabinet ministries.
The Intersyndicale never rejected the law on pensions, it even repeated over and over again that it was “necessary” and “inevitable”! To listen to the unions, we should have been satisfied with demanding “more negotiations between government, unions, and employers”, or “more measures to make the law a fairer reform”...
To struggle against all these attacks, we can count on nobody but ourselves. As far as we are concerned, we defended in this movement the necessity for workers to organise in their workplaces in sovereign mass meetings (“general assemblies”), to coordinate the strike nationally and to have it run by elected, immediately revocable delegates. Only a struggle led, organised, and controlled by all workers – both in terms of its methods and its aims – can create the conditions necessary for victory.
We know that the fight isn’t finished: the attacks will continue, conditions will be more and more difficult, and the consequences of the capitalist crisis will only get worse. Everywhere in the world, we will have to fight. And for that we must once again find confidence in our own strength:
- We can take control of our own struggles and organise collectively.
- We can discuss together openly and fraternally, we can speak freely with each other.
- We can control of our own discussions and our own decisions.
Our mass meetings must be controlled not by the unions, but by the workers themselves.
We will have to fight to defend our lives and our children’s future!
The exploited of the whole world are brothers and sisters of one and the same class!
Only our unity across all national borders can overthrown this system of exploitation.
Participants of the AG InterPro “Gare de l’Est et Île de France”
Contact us at [email protected]