Archive | June, 2012
26 Jun

Jack Rasmus

Introductory Comments: The following article was written for the US-wide unionists group, the Emergency Labor Network, as one of its position statements. A more in depth analysis of the same topic is available on this writer’s website,, (see ‘articles toolbar tab on the webpage) and accessible from the sidebar of this blog.

A pension crisis of major dimensions is growing in the US across all three forms of defined benefit plans (DBPs)—public, private single employer, and private multi-employer plans.

Corporate America and its political friends have begun to use the economic crisis that commenced in 2007 as an opportunity to initiate and expand yet another offensive aimed at further undermining defined benefit pensions in the U.S. Having already begun in 2009-10 with a new attack by governors on public employees’ pension plans, the Corporate Offensive over the subsequent eighteen months has expanded to include new coordinated attacks on private…

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The POI on the late French elections

22 Jun


Communiqué from the National Secretaries of the Independent Workers’ Party (the POI)


1- What is most telling after the first round of legislative elections in France is the level of abstention, unprecedented in the 5th Republic: 43 % – and more than 50% in the working class and popular neighbourhoods. A part of those who voted for Francois Hollande in order to be rid of the politics of Sarkozy and the European Union have expressed that, five weeks later, they are still waiting: will there be a real break with the anti-labour politics that have been chipping away at our country for the past 30 years? (Another part of the voters, sharing the same expectations, voted in favour of the presidential majority.)

2- The 5th Republic, a Bonapartist regime whose keystone is the president of the Republic, has reduced the parliament to one single function: applying the president’s decisions. This impotence of a Parliament (the National Assembly) – which itself is a subsidiary of the European Union (90% of its laws are but transposition of European directives) has been further weakened by the Jospin reform placing the holding of the legislative elections just after the presidential election. Whence the fact that these elections seem to be limited to a simple alternative: either back the president (by voting for the PS – the Socialist Party), or don’t back the president (by voting for the UMP – the Union for a Popular Movement, on the right). This explains the trend seen in the June 10th elections, the crushing of all the other parties, with the exception of the FN (the National Front, far right), whose progress in some constituencies is the result of the disintegration of the UMP and a right-wing radicalization of a fraction of its voters. Against these anti-democratic institutions, the POI candidates stood to defend the need for a sovereign Constituent Assembly, enabling the people themselves to define the shape and the content of genuinely democratic policy – which implies breaking with the European Union and therefore opposing the new Brussels treaty, the Super-Maastricht (the TSCG).

3- These legislative elections are part and parcel of the growing rejection that, throughout Europe, is seeing the workers and the peoples standing up against the policies dictated by the European Union – International Monetary Fund – European Central Bank Troika. But at the same time, the Brussels authorities are increasing the pressure to force the Greek people to submit to the “Memorandum” that they have been rejecting with all their means – from strikes to elections – for over a year now. In Spain, the banks are demanding a bailout of 100 billion euros, to compensate their speculative investments; that is 100 billion euros that will weigh even heavier in the austerity measures hitting the workers and the peoples of Spain. From Washington, Obama has sent an ultimatum to the European governments, that they settle the euro crisis in order to spare the US economy. To do so, Obama demands lethal plans against all the workers and peoples of Europe. Even in France, emissaries from the EU came to dictate their demands last May 30th: more privatization, more deregulation, and more out-sourcing. This is as if in anticipation of the TSCG “Super-Maastricht” treaty that Sarkozy and Merkel signed in Brussels last March 2nd.

The question is: How will the Hollande-Ayrault government react to the diktats of the European Commission? Will it engage on the path to ratification of the treaty or will it decide to oppose the violation of national sovereignty that, for example, the writing of the “golden rule” into the French Constitution would mean? What will it propose at the summit of the heads of State and government next 28th and 29th of June?

4- Throughout France, concern is growing. The greatest attention is being paid to the decisions the government will be making: ArcelorMittal, Doux, Petroplus, PSA; what is going to be the response to the redundancy plans that menace or that have already been decided? In National Education, in the civil service, what measures will be taken to confront the drastic consequences of the jobs that have been axed? Throughout the entire country, what decisions are going to be taken concerning salaries, purchasing power and Social Security? And also: what is going to become of Sarkozy’s territorial reform, rejected by most of the elected officials? The rejection expressed in the votes of April 22nd and May 6th, confirmed on June 10th, demands a clear and precise response in keeping with the expectations of the people. That clear and precise response is contradictory to any submission to the diktats of the European Union and the Troika. It is contradictory to ratification of the TSCG treaty, regarding which all the parties standing for the legislative elections have respected the law of silence – silence that was broken only by the POI campaign.

5- At the initiative of the Independent Workers’ Party, more than 52,000 workers and young people have taken a stand against ratification. In 35 “départements” (a “départment” is an administrative region in France, similar to a county – translator’s note), more than 60 calls for unity have gathered activists and elected officials of all horizons in the labour movement to declare: the treaty cannot be ratified under any shape or form. For the POI, the central issue is the refusing of austerity, wherever it comes from and wherever it is applied – nationally, regionally, in the counties or in the towns.
The 20,740 votes obtained by the candidates of the Independent Workers’ Party in the 106 constituencies where they stood equal the votes that the POI activists and committees went out and sought in their campaign. They are tantamount to a fraction of workers and activists who, through this campaign, have been convinced to use their vote to express their agreement with the politics of the POI.

This result, along with the POI’s entire campaign against ratification – are the fulcrum for the construction of a real independent workers’ party.

The national federal council of the Independent Workers’ Party meeting next 23 and 24 June will debate on the situation and the initiatives that need be taken to intensify the campaign against ratification of the TSCG, to once again address all the parties and elected officials who assert that they represent the interests of the population, of the working class and of democracy – first and foremost amongst them the president of the Republic himself – to say

“This treaty must not be ratified, no to austerity!”

Paris, June 11, 2012
The national secretaries of the Independent Workers’ Party
Claude Jenet, Daniel Gluckstein, Gérard Schivardi, Jean Markun