Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

France: Biggest workers protest in 20 years

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Across Europe the working classes are mobilising to fight back against the rich self-serving capitalist class. January saw the biggest workers protest in 20 years when an estimated 2.5 million workers took to the streets in France as part of a one day general strike.

By Lousie Aldridge, Socialist Party Gold Coast

This is the first mass action in France against the Government’s policy to bail out financial institutions as a measure against the credit crisis.

The workers were furious at the claims of French President Sarkosy that there was no money to raise stagnating wages, while simultaneously being able to find billions of Euros to bail out their friends in the banks.

Remarkably this strike was taken despite a current backdrop of low union membership in France. Clearly workers are angry with years of exploitation by the capitalist class and are no longer willing to accept the painful medicine of neo-liberal reform while the capitalists continue to reap all the benefit. In support of this an opinion poll showed widespread solidarity (63%) with the workers.

People are realizing that that the capitalist system does not work. Even Alan Greenspan, ex head of Federal Reserve in the US said that one of the flaws of capitalism was the indiscriminate distribution of toxic loans.

Capitalists tried to shore up their system by supplying toxic credit, which has now bitten them back Companies are going under due to classic crisis of over production, workers cannot buy the goods they produce.

All this reflects the situation described by Karl Marx. Capitalism has crashed by driving down the necessary product and increasing the surplus product. For example in the US wages (necessary) are the lowest share of GDP since 1947 and the surplus (profit), until the crisis, was at an all time high.

People will now be looking for an alternative to capitalism. Socialism and a planned economy must be shown to be the viable option. The decisive action of the French working class shows that the fight back has only just begun in Europe.


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