"All of us together can win."
Workers protest in Le Mans, France March 16 -- image via the CGT on Twitter
French unions and Left political parties are calling for further strikes and mobilizations after the French government of Emmanuel Macron resorted to an undemocratic constitutional maneuver to push through its deeply unpopular pension "reforms".
The proposed changes would, among other attacks on workers, raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 while also raising the number of years of work it takes to qualify for a pension. Since being announced it has proven deeply unpopular with the people of France. Opinion polls show that it is opposed by around two-thirds of the population and the government has faced waves of massive protests and strikes that have it on the defensive.
Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets on several occasions including as recently as March 7-8.
After the government announced its intention to bypass parliament, where Macron's party does not hold a majority, to force passage of the legislation using article 49.3 of the constitution there were spontaneous demonstrations in Paris and other cities across the country.
Protests continued on March 17:
France's unions are vowing to continue and escalate resistance with a new general strike planned for March 23. In a March 16 statement the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), for example, said:
What the CGT denounced as unjust yesterday is even more so today and this can only encourage us to amplify the mobilizations and strikes, the struggle continues!
With the support of the vast majority of the population, mobilized for weeks, the coordinated union actions continue to demand the withdrawal of this reform
The French Communist Party (PCF) called the use of 49.3 a defeat for Macron:.
Thus the government has just drawn article 49-3 of the Constitution to force through its project to ransack the right to retirement.
The use of this constitutional mechanism is an admission: no more than in the country where it provoked a historic social movement, this project has no majority support in the National Assembly. It is also illegitimate: designed in principle to allow the adoption of finance laws, it is now used to impose on our people a real anti-social coup.
This failure of the government is the result of the formidable mobilizations of recent weeks, the unity of the coordinated unions and the action of all the elected representatives, the left and ecologist forces, who have put all their forces into this battle.
The PCF is demanding a referendum on the issue which the Macron government would clearly lose.
They are certain that if the unions and Left political forces maintain their unity victory is assured.