austerity / International / labor / US Politics

Nicole Bernard, CGT/France​, Speaks to Labor Campaign for Single Payer Conference in Chicago


Introduction below from Labor Beat

Invited as a guest speaker to the Jan. 11, 2013 Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare National Strategy Conference, Nicole Bernard (retired social security worker from France and representing the French CGT union) outlined labor’s fight to defend the French healthcare system and related it to the struggle in the U.S. to stop threats here to Social Security and Medicare.

Bernard noted: “While the entire French population wants to keep the Social Security/health care system, the government wants to reintroduce in it the private insurance companies that had been excluded since 1945. How? By making it mandatory to enlist in an additional private insurance plan. This would entail a brutal reduction of coverage by the basic universal mandatory regime that would force people to purchase additional insurance plans in order to meet health care costs…I’m sure this rings a bell with you!”

At the beginning of the video is a short (edited down) statement from Denis Lalys, General Secretary, National Federation of Social Security/Health Care Workers, CGT – France. It was translated and read to the Conference in Chicago by Alan Benjamin, member of the San Francisco Labor Council Executive Board. The CGT statement, which was also a solidarity greeting to the National Conference, reminded everyone that there is a proud history to the French health care system, which is now under serious threat: “…the French Social Security/National Health Care system … was established in 1945, a system born in the midst of the great upheavals that followed a very deadly and destructive war. There was a pressing need for the millions of workers who fought Nazi barbarism to fight for, and win, a health care system based on social justice. The 1945 ordinances set up the foundation of a social protection system that can be summed up in the phrase: ‘Everyone pays according to his/her ability and receives according to his/her needs.’ ” This statement was met with loud applause from the audience in Chicago.

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