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04/04/2018 by socialistfight
By Viriato Lusitania
The strike of the railway workers started with strength and enthusiasm, pushed by a strong mobilization of the rank and file workers, the train drivers, the traffic controllers.
Together with the Air France staff strike, both strikes almost completely paralysed France.
Air France had to cancel about a third of its long and medium-distance flights because of the strike, and half of its domestic flights were cancelled. Further strikes are planned for 10 and 11 April.
The strength and power of the working class has sprung with staring clarity, showing all the potential social and political possibilities of the workers when they mobilize together and when they struggle seriously.
By the same token, it also shows the undermining work of the compromised union leaders with the capitalists, always ready to blame the workers who “do not mobilize” and to advise their government on the best way to deceive the workers.
Other important strikes are developing, such as that of university students against the government’s plan to give greater importance to “selection”, that is, to the exclusion and discrimination of students from poor neighbourhoods.
The students of the faculty of Tolbiac blocked the entrance of the University and left to join the demonstration of railway workers.
This demonstration, quite combative, gave rise to clashes with the police who threw tear gas canisters against the strikers. The conjunction of students – railway workers plus other sectors of workers is the exact formula, lack of real political direction of the movement, to make it triumph.
The FO union leader stated that “Macron did not realize that there was dry grass and that the slightest spark could cause a major conflagration”.
Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT, called on Macron and the government to “open their ears” in the face of “very great social discontent”.
Seventy-seven percent of train drivers and 69 percent of inspectors were on strike. As a result, seven of the eight long-distance trains[TGV], four of the five regional trains and two of the three local trains were cancelled.
The government tries to push the population against the railway workers, but in one day, the strike fund received donations for 157 000 euros from workers and the public in solidarity with their movement.
Jean-Luc Melenchon (L) speaks to protestors during a demonstration in front of the Gare de L’Est train station on April 3, 2018 in Paris.
The demonstration of the railway workers in Paris was joined by Mélenchon who was questioned by some anarchist and leftist railway workers but well received in general and by the new secretary of the Socialist Party Olivier Faure, who joined the procession and who was copiously whistled. In the district of the Gare de l’Est, the future first secretary of the PS tried to make his way, before being quickly pushed out of the demonstration.
Both LO and NPA and POI, POID militants, more present than in other categories of workers but relatively few in number, ‘pushed the wagon forward’ and were surely the most advanced and combative elements among the strikers, despite their political deficiencies.
The strike continues today and as it began, we can only wait for a similar or major mobilization. To continue at the same pace, if the student movement, which is growing and only just beginning, continues to grow, if union leaders do not capitulate in open field, but this is very difficult today because of the broad mobilization and the success of the strike, there is a chance that the movement will continue to grow and that “dry grass” will become dry powder.
The working class of France, proud of its historical traditions, will be able to paint an important page in the struggle for the emancipation of humanity.