PARIS. –They were all here: Olivier Besancenot, Christine Poupin, and Philippe Poutou, as well as some special guests, assembled for the first meeting of their party the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA) since President François Hollande’s election. The motto was “From the right-wing to the left one, we fight austerity!”
Among the main speakers were Guillaume, a railway worker member of the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) union and also of the NPA, Philippe Evrar, a worker at PSA and a member of the CGT. Both of them pointed out the various damaging effects of austerity, as Thursday October 25 was also the first national strike of SNCF, France’s state-owned railway company.
According to Guillaume, the government and employers are making claims for an increase in productivity and a rationalization of production. As a result, fixed-term contracts and outsourced jobs are multiplying. But it has lead to an increasing internal competition, cuts in jobs and also deterioration in living conditions, since the wages of railway workers has been decreased by 20%.
For both Evrar and Guillaume, the SNCF strike today is just the very first on a long list. The claims of these workers can unify everyone in every sector, since everyone is a victim of the current crisis and of austerity.
In their minds, and contrary to what some politicians have assumed, the enemies are not the foreigners but employers and their main instrument: the State. Both of them pointed out the necessity to create links with the various fighting workers’ movements so as to make converge all the fights under a common perspective, the same political objective, which could eventually lead to a better organization of the society and a better distribution of wealth.