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Retirement “Reform” – CGT Launches Mobilization in Nantes

Translated Wednesday 11 September 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

CGT leader Thierry Lepaon spoke to 1600 trade union delegates at the first of four kick-off meetings, in Nantes on Sept. 3. The goal is to launch the mobilization for Sept. 10 with the slogan: for “wages, jobs and retirement rights.”

For Thierry Lepaon it was a natural choice to begin his kick-off meetings and get his message across in Nantes, the city where Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was mayor from 1989 to 2012. “When you talk to him in Paris, he has a tough time hearing us and listening to us. I even said that his right ear is better developed than his left ear!” the general secretary of the CGT exclaimed. “So we said to ourselves that if we talked in his city, maybe he would lend his attention to our analyses and our proposals.”

Delegates from the Aquitaine, Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Poitou-Charentes regions had gathered in Nantes. They included many delegates from industries that are in crisis, such as the auto and shipbuilding industries, and also delegates from the Doux food processing corporation, which has been severely tested these past few months.

Besides attacking the retirement “reform,” which he again condemned as “anti-young people,” Thierry Lepaon repeated that it is necessary “to put an end to the austerity policy which is failing everywhere in Europe and in the world.” “There’s an economic crisis because labor is not paid enough – companies have been stuffing their shareholders.” In other words, both the problem and its solution lie in the sharing out of resources to capital and labor.

“Trade unionism alone cannot make people happy despite themselves. The workers have to be able to storm in and intervene to change the course of events.” It was in these words that he called on the CGT delegates to go and sensitize the workers from now until Sept. 10. The trade union leader said he was convinced that the day of action would then be “a success.”

The trade union front, which includes the CGT, FO, and Solidares confederations, FSU (the main teachers union) and the student unions, is calling for a day of strikes and demonstrations on Sept. 10. The CGT has decided to bring together 10,000 union delegates in four all-industry meetings in the course of this week. The first meeting was in Nantes on Sept. 3.

The second will be in Montpellier on Sept. 4 and will bring together delegates from Corsica, Languedoc-Rousillon, Midi-Pyrenees and the French Riviera.

On Sept. 5, Thierry Lepaon will be in the Paris region, at the Docks d’Aubervilliers and will speak to delegates from the Alsace, Centre, Champagne-Ardennes, Ile-de-France, Lorraine, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Normandy, and Picardy regions.

The final meeting will be held in Lyons on Sept. 9, the day before the great day of mobilization, with delegates from Auvergne, Burgundy, Franche-Comté, Limousin and Rhône-Alpes.

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