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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La Sécu, notre bien commun

by Jean-Paul Piérot

Social security, our common good

Translated Saturday 7 November 2015, by Ciaran Edwards

Editorial by Jean-Paul Piérot.

Seventy years after the rulings on 4th and 19th October 1945, which laid the foundations of our social-security system, the French people’s fondness for this major conquest by the Resistance has not suffered from the ravages of time. In fact, it is a cause people are prepared to stand for. "A common good we are all responsible for" – this was the leading statement supported by public opinion in the study carried out by the Elabe institute, at a colloquium at the Economic, Social and Environmental Council today, organised by l’Humanité, in partnership with Mutuelle Familiale.

The popular support for social security has had generations of employed people taking to the streets each time the government has tried to attack social protection, health insurance and retirement. Some have bitter memories of it: 20 years ago, on November 15th, 1995, the prime minister at the time, Alain Juppé, triggered the most powerful social movement – France’s largest and longest strike. The country’s entire workforce found itself behind the railway workers’ battle. During that famous autumn and winter of 1995, no one could touch social security and get away with it. Since then, blows have been delivered to it by different governments, taking over from major employers who have never accepted the system of solidarity created by the National Council of the Resistance, which was thrashed a few years ago by the MEDEF [1] director, Denis Kessler, in an article that remains infamous.

63% of French people consider social security to be an investment, not a cost. Of course, opinion is divided, with French people aligned with the left being most attached to the idea, far more than right-wing voters and even more again than supporters of the National Front, who are not very sympathetic towards sharing and humanity. No wonder social security, which prioritises public interest over personal greed, is a controversial political topic. Ambroise Croizat’s battle must go on.

[1Movement of French Enterprises

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