Plateforme 2016 and the Fight for a Workers Program in France

(translated from the newsletter of Plateforme 2016

In the first week of the occupation of the Place de la Republique in Paris, activists organized the Program and Perspectives Committee, which was named “Plateforme 2016”. During the first month of the Nuit Debout (Up All Night) movement in April, 2016, we held nightly meetings to discuss our initial proposals for a program of demands: increased wages for workers, financed by a cap on incomes; hiring of the unemployed through a reduction of the work week to 25 hours; liberty and economic democracy through the collective management of companies and through a Federation of workers-consumers.

The atmosphere if these meetings, which gathered 50 to 150 people and lasted from 9 in the evening to midnight or 1 in the morning remains unforgettable for us. Many participants came there to express their suffering at work, the suffering of their relatives, their parents and anger that sometimes accumulated for generations. Those who hesitated to speak at the impressive Popular Assemblies easily took the floor in the assemblies of our committee. People spoke easily and the discussions were direct. Each meeting allowed us to discuss the objectives of Plateforme 2016.

Plateforme2016 is based on the needs expressed by those who are suffering, the real needs of people. These needs, despised by the rulers, the rich and other bourgeois, we want to translate into political objectives, into immediate mobilization targets. We said that the needs of the majority are clearly opposed to the interests of the capitalist minority, of the oligarchy and the direct interests of the whole bourgeoisie, and therefore that we have to wage a class struggle, uniting with those who cannot tolerate the evil that is done to them.

Participants also made clear that the needs of a particular fraction of the oppressed are not opposed to the needs of this or that other fraction of the exploited people. Quite the contrary! For example, the solution to the unemployment problem by hiring the unemployed can both meet the labor needs of the unemployed and provide the free time needed to those who work too, thanks to a drastic drop in the work week.

One question was frequently raised. How to reduce the working time and ensure a maintenance or increase in wages? The answer we have made is simple: the pay gap between top and bottom should be reduced and a cap placed on income. According to all available data, we could easily double the income of half of the poorest French by a more egalitarian policy.

Discussions on the issue of salary increase and the issue of income inequality has led us to argue regularly about proposals for "salary for life" and the "universal income" , on the question of the abolition of property private of the means of production and the meaning that we had to give this slogan, and on the differences between bourgeois property that we would do well to eliminate and the right to personal property or property use, which prohibits its use by others. Once we had covered the main objectives of social change, the debate widened inevitably to the need for revolution and the use of violence to give birth to a true transformation of society.

The initiators of Plateforme 2016 gave its main task as helping the Nuit Debout movement to set clear objectives for mobilizing workers and trade unionists involved in the struggle against the Labour Act, objectives that will become part of defining the goals for a new society. After all, wasn’t the starting point of Nuit Debout the fight against the Labor Law and the world it represents?

In the fight against the Labor Law and its world, the question of changing the government obviously arises. But how to create the political capacity to get rid of the present government? If the world of the government is characterized by class antagonisms and relations of exploitation, to what world are we going to win? We return to the program, we return to the prospects of the movement.

In line with what was laid on the first night of occupation of the site: "We have nothing to demand", "we want to reclaim the tools to work."??

Through Plateforme2016, we have sought to popularize the objectives for the struggle that would allow us, by direct and collective action, to satisfy by ourselves our own needs, ignoring the employer's authority or the authority of our elected democratic representatives. We said that it is necessary to create counter-powers, counter-institutions, to multiply them on the company level and on a territorial level. We must lay the foundation of new institutions that will replace the old. Meanwhile, those counter-powers are immediately useful, because they represent the framework of solidarity and mutual assistance which allows us to win a number of intermediate objectives. These counter-powers may represent at first a union or associative core. They can later become a true canvas of workers councils and representative assemblies of entire sectors.

We have nothing to expect from the government of Valls, nor from any government of left or right. We don’t accept the slogan "let's be ungovernable." We oppose to bourgeois dictatorship and powerlessness , the prospect of changing the world, of "governing ourselves by ourselves".

Plateforme 2016 Evolves

The second month of occupation of the square, our meetings were held several times a week rather than daily. In contrast, the interventions of the comrades of the committee were more numerous in the People's Assembly. We presented our main proposals that had been selected and discussed but not yet adopted at the Assembly Saturday, May 15.

We found ourselves in conflict with the militants who had unfortunately little idea of the great responsibility which we had, as active participants of Nuti Debout, to encourage the adoption of clear mobilization targets in the Assemblies, to talk to the people, to talk to workers and to motivate their involvement in the movement against the Labor Law. The few people who have taken a public stand against our proposals had considered that we still enjoyed a lot of time to discuss every detail of the proposals, argued that these proposals have to be approved by other committees, and that therefore the vote of the Assembly at that time was not "legitimate."

Our proposals on hiring the unemployed and lower working time to 25 hours, increasing wages and pensions, financed by the income cap, and collective management of companies in order to meet the social needs of people, in accord with environmental requirements, were finally adopted by a vote of the meeting. But the movement’s dynamic was much lower this time, with much lower attendance at the meetings, so unfortunately the vote had nothing of the resonance that adopting this measure would have had a month earlier.

But vote or no vote, besides the daily debates around a project mobilization and social liberation, we presented the Platform proposals regularly in the People's Assembly. That was the main thing. In presenting the main amendments, and discussions and debates around these amendments, we could measure the popularity of a number of measures. For example, the abolition of private ownership of means of production and exchange was one of the most applauded measures by the People's Assembly measures, at a time when 1,500 or 2,000 participants were present.

New ideas have been advanced and debated, ideas that have made their way and continue to make their way into popular consciousness. It is the great success of our activism.

Plateforme2016, our program of demands, was distributed in more than 15 000 copies. The right-wing press gave us publicity. Joseph Mace-Scaron wrote in Marianne, magazine of the National Front party of Marnine le Pen, that our proposals gave "the impression of coming right out of a mimeograph of the 1970’s“ (22 to 28 April 2016,while in the rightist newspaper L’Opinion, editorial writer Nicolas Beytout said that our proposals outright revealed " the existence of an absolute danger "( Friday 29 and Saturday, April 30, 2016). In fact, proposals Plateforme2016 have been widely broadcast on the Web to the point that for several weeks, we were contacted almost daily by people from all over France and even often from abroad.

In early June, a meeting was held in Paris, with a Luxemburgist activist from the US who had contacted us by email and who was excited by the radicalism of our goals. He was able to tell us about his experience with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In South Africa, a group of activists is also directly inspired proposals Platerforme2016 to write a new manifesto. Our exchanges are published on the blog Plateforme2016.

There is a possible alternative to capitalism! It is desirable for the vast majority, indeed, essential. At Plateforme2016, we wanted to break the mental barriers that prevent us to project ourselves into another world, the world without capitalists, without exploiters, without classes. It is up to us to build it!

We have perservered for nearly three months, but we have not limited our interventions to the Place de la Republique We also organized elsewhere.

Several series of leaflets for various demonstrations and rallies against the Labour Act were circulated by the groups formed around Plateforme2016 in front of workplaces, train and subway passengers, where we organized many speeches.

Alongside the stand that we held regularly on the Place de la Republique, people interested in the development of ideas outlined in Plateforme2016 were invited to organizational meetings every week since April 16. It is in this framework that we have decided to publish 2000 double-sided copies to expose our strategy for the fight, and a set of stickers with 15,000 copies.

It is in also in this context that we are trying to organize a movement that aids the struggles of unions and associations, which helps unite these struggles on the objectives of the platform.

We intend to continue the momentum around the occupation of the Place de la Republique. We continue to meet. A first training and exchange weekend was organized around the issue of social classes and the abolition of bourgeois property. We expect already a meeting outside Paris in the last week in August to engage in reflection around our strategy and our program.

Some of us share the belief that Nuti Debout can be a starting point for building a political movement. Mélenchon has watend to ally with Nuit Debout. We have heard repeatedly from representatives of Varoufakis, former Greek Fiance Minister of the Syriza government.

For us the movement that needs to be continued is that of a liberation movement against capitalist exploitation and oppression, a movement whose strategy and methods accord with its overall objectives. All advances are good to take in the current capitalist framework. But our horizon is certainly not confined to any rotten compromise with the bourgeoisie. We want everything! All the riches of this world, all political power! We do not want to share anything with the gravediggers of humanity, the warmongers, the destroyers of nature, the exploiters of workers!

We believe that we must continue to make the Place de la Republique in Paris a rallying point, a center of information, exchange and encounter. But we must also move the meeting points and convergence at the base, both at work and at home. This is where the comrades will be most useful in the field. Those who do not come to the Place de la Republique, who did not come in the demonstrations, who were left behind, we have to go find them, organize them, build with them the bonds of solidarity that will allow us 'move forward without fear employers and the government and ignoring their abject blackmail.

We are preparing for the beginning of September. We will help revive the momentum to make the mobilization of September 15 [a national day of protest against the Labor Law-ed] a success.

In this perspective, we are launching now a call for many to participate in the interprovincial Assemblyof 8 September, at the Labor Exchange, to organize the mobilization campaign. Several comrades of Plateforme2016 were elected delegates to the Coordinating Committee to organize this meeting. W will go to all the meetings, all the initiatives to organize and unite on concrete and mobilizing objectives of Plateforme2016
Program adopted by Plateforme 2016:

- Hiring of the 6 million unemployed, with 1 additional hiring for every 4 current employees.

- Reduction of work week to 25 hours with a sliding scale of working hours.

- Increase minimum wage to € 1,500 /month net with retirement, student scholarship and minimum income increased to € 1,000/month.

- Transparency of salaries, wages equality for women / men and opening of company accounts.

- Capping of income to 4 times the minimum wage.

- Free health care, regional transport, education, vocational training and opening of the university to all, regardless of age or degree. Free essential goods.

- Requisition of empty housing, abolition of rent and guarantee of the use of the housing property.

- Expropriation of large fortunes, abolition of capitalist property and direct, collective management companies.

- All power to assemblies of workers / residents to plan production according to social needs and ecological imperatives.

- Election by the Assemblies of revocable delegates with binding mandates.

- Free National and International Federation of industrial units, regions and cities.

- Automatic naturalization for all residents in France and international cooperation of workers against underdevelopment, imperialism and war.