(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 26, 2010
Worldwide Working Class Action on Sept 7
R Arun Kumar
THE general strike organised
on September 7 was a huge success in
In response to the call of the
World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), workers came out on the
protesting the policies of their respective governments that are
increasing burdens on their shoulders. Many protest demonstrations and
mobilisations have taken place on that day in countries like
The WFTU called upon all the trade unions and progressive organisations of the world to participate in the International Action Day, September 7. Calling for coordinated, cooperative, international solidarity and action against the global economic crisis, WFTU had put out its demands: workers should not be made to pay for the crisis, retrenchment of employees and workers to be stopped, to stop the expenditure on military equipments and this money to be granted to the unemployed and the poor, to take immediate action on writing-off the debts of Third World countries, free and public health, education, food and water for all, public investment for the creation of jobs and taking immediate measures to satisfy the needs of the workers. Apart from these general demands, the working class of each country had its own particular demands based on the concrete conditions they are facing in their countries.
In France, one of the advanced capitalist countries, the right-wing Sarkozy government had launched a severe offensive on the working class and other common people of the country to 'bring the country out of the economic crisis'. It proposed a series of measures that are intended to withdraw many social welfare measures won by the working class through relentless struggles in the past. Protesting these attacks on their rights, more than 2.5 million workers participated in the protest demonstrations in the country held in more than 220 centres. This, in fact, ranks one among the big mobilisations of the working class in the recent periods, even topping the mobilisations in the month of June by more than 500,000. The country was brought to a standstill by the mass strike organised by the different sections of the working class.
The French strikes cut
national rail services by about 50 per cent and disrupted underground
Immediately following this day of action, Sarkozy announced some concessions – broadening the categories of workers who will be 'exceptions', that is, able to keep their retirement age at 60. This includes workers who started work before the age of 18, as well as workers who can prove 10 per cent incapacity because of physically demanding jobs (earlier, it was 20 per cent). It was an attempt made under pressure of the mass turnout to show that the government is supposedly ‘open to negotiate’. Following this success, six of the eight French trade union federations (CGT, CFDT, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA, FSU) decided to go for another 'day of strikes and demonstrations' on September 23.
Working class actions in other
countries too had a similar impact. In
The public sector employees of
Along with attempts to cut down social welfare measures, the ruling classes are trying to divide the working class on chauvinist lines. The expulsion of Roma immigrants from France is an example of such attempts. Though these measures are in contravention to the declared policy of European Union, there is no real attempt to stop France from implementing it, except for issuing an official condemnation. The real intention of the French government is to divert the attention of the working class from analysing the real causes for their present hardships and also to break their unity. The failure of the ruling classes in Europe to learn from the lessons of history (the rise of fascism and Hitler) show to what extent they are ready to go to protect their hegemony.
The ruling classes that are actively encouraging the growth of extreme right-wing forces in their countries are on the other initiating steps to curb the growth of communist parties and their popularity. It is a fact that communist parties in many of the European countries are not the same force as they once had been. During this period of economic crisis, people are coming out in protest actions at their own initiative and at times are even pushing the trade unions to announce militant protest demonstrations against the offensive of the ruling classes. Among the workers, there is a visible sense of discontent against the social-democrat leadership of the various trade unions and confederations for their failure to lead militant protests.
IN MARXIST THEORY
In this conjuncture, once again people are showing a growing interest upon communist parties and Marxist theory. The ruling classes afraid of this growth of revolutionary ideas and sensing danger immediately resorted to ban the usage of communist symbols, as in Poland and Hungary, and the parties themselves, as in Czech Republic. There are also efforts to place severe restrictions on the functioning of the communist parties as can be discerned from the moves initiated against the Communist Party of Greece by the Socialist government there.
It is in this context that the protest demonstrations witnessed on September 7 assume their importance. The demonstrations worldwide once again point to the extent of discontentment that is rising among the working class against the attacks on their rights. One of the many positive features emanating is that the working class is not ready to rest on the success of one-day action – a call was given to organise demonstrations once again on September 29. The working class is realising the importance of organising sustained struggles. The demonstrations held in France show that it is not that easy to break the ranks of the working class. They also show that history will not forgive us, if we fail to give a proper direction to these struggles: prepare them to struggle not only for their economic demands but for a systemic change.