[Marxism] French popular referendum rejects postal privatisation
latham_77 at iinet.net.au
Wed Oct 14 11:14:40 MDT 2009
French popular referendum rejects postal privatisation
French people have sent a strong message to the government of Nicolas
Sarkozy with 90% of respondents in a poll rejecting its moves to convert
the national postal service, La Poste, into a publicly company. The poll
result has highlighted public opposition to Sarkozy’s neo-liberal
assault on public services.
While France, like other capitalist countries, has been undergoing
restricting under both centre left and centre right governments since
the 1980s, however these reforms have been to an extent blunted by
working class resistance, most spectacularly during the 1995 strike wave
against attacks on the public sector and the student led movement that
defeated the First Employment Contract (CPE) legislation in 2005. Since
his election Sarkozy has made clear that he intended to continue to push
through further neo-liberal reform of the French economy including
deregulation of university education, increased costs for patients in
the health system. On July 29, the council of ministers adopted a bill,
to be taken to parliament in November, for the partial privatisation of
The push to convert La Poste into a public company has been met with
opposition from French unions who argue that it is an attempt at
privatisation by stealth. French postal unions called unlimited strike
action, beginning September 21, i n Paris post offices where 140 workers
have been sacked already this year. In addition unions and other
progressive organisations have demanded that the government conduct a
referendum on its proposal, which the government refused to do (public
referendums can be initiated if supported one fifth of MPs and 10% of
registered voters – around 4.5 million people).
Opponents of the privatisation, organised through the National Committee
Against the Privatisation of the Post (CNPP) which brings together 62
union, political and social organisations, initiated their own
referendum on the question which closed on October 3. People were asked
“the government wants to change the status of La Poste (the postal
service) to private, do you agree with the project?". Across France more
than 2.1 million people participated in the vote with more than 90
percent opposing privatisation. On October 5, the CNPP issued statement
that called on “the president and his government to hear the verdict and
permanently renounce this Act” and reminded the public that “La Poste is
for you all, no change in the status can be made without a referendum”.
In response to the outcome government spokespeople have attempted to
pour cold water on the outcome and undermine the legitimacy of the vote.
Christian Estrosi, Minister of Industry, dismissed the vote on October
3, telling /Radio France International/ “No doubt, there will be 99% per
cent against it”.
As part of its October 5 statement, the CNPP called on its local
committees to begin meet immediately with the senators and members of
their department and district government to demand the withdrawal of the
Bill. On October 13, the CNPP issued a new statement outlining the
expansion of it campaign against the privatisation. This included:
* Launching a petition card to send to the President of the
Republic, this postcard will be posted on the website will
demanding respect the vote of October 3; withdrawal of the bill on
the agenda of the Senate and National Assembly; an open public
debate; the holding of a referendum on the future of public postal
* Calls a week of mobilization against privatization, development of
public postal service and the organization of a referendum from
October 31 to November 7.
* On October 31 the National Committee calls for further initiatives
underway, such as organizing rallies at post offices involving
population, politicians and postal workers.
* On 2 November the national committee decides on a rally outside
the Senate in the presence of representatives of local committees
and elected officials.
The CNPP statements indicated that if the opposition to the
privatisation of La Poste is ignored and the law is approved in the
Senate and the government the campaign will be further escalated. The
CNPP plans to organize satellite events on the same day in November and
will initiate a discussion at the local level a national mobilisation in
Paris in December.
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