By: Juan Chingo / Source: La Izquierda Diario / The Dawn News / May 17, 2016. Class struggle intensifies in France once again, and the bourgeoisie grows increasingly concerned. The government and the right face a new cycle of hard struggles.
We’ve pointed out the return of the class struggle in France, after the defeat of the movement against the retirement reform in 2010. In this context, from an historical point of view, the current movement is a first warmup of the workers’ and students’ movement after six years of social dialogue in which unions avoided confrontation with a supposedly left-wing government.
Therefore, despite the biased propaganda of the media —which insists every day on saying that the movement is wearing down, pointing out the real difficulties that taking a leap further entails— this warmup exercise of the social movement makes the more lucid sectors of the bourgeoisie grow concerned over the near future.
This is the case of Cecile Cornudet opinion column, which was published in the openly pro-bourgeois newspaper, Les Echos. In an article titled «La droite et le théorème d’El Khomri» (“The right and the theorem of El Khomri”, referring to the name of the Work Minister that leads the new labor bill), she says:
“Since its appearance, three months ago, the El Khomri law is met with increasingly growing hostility in the streets. In their campaigns for the primary elections, all the candidates of the right proposed laws that were even more intense than El Khomri’s. That is, more audacious. How to do it without awaking the social guerrilla?”
And she adds:
“The persistent political and social unrest regarding the labor reform is only a short-term satisfaction for a right that is looking for alternance. It unveils problems that have not been yet resolved. Are the French people as “mature” for the reform as the candidates say, based on polls? The public opinion was in favor of the reform of the Labour Code at the beginning of January, before it opposed it massively when the government decided to put it into practice. If the next President of the Republic is from the right, is he or she going to have a blank check as the previous presidents had?”
And she concludes, without optimism: “If the timid El Khomri law generates so much discontent, what’s going to happen to the significantly tougher reforms that the right promises if it wins?”.
This is the scenario that all of the vangardist sectors (which still have difficulties to move the millions of exploited) should have in mind to avoid giving up the fight. Because, no matter the result of this first round, a cycle of hard class struggles is beginning in France. And we must be prepared.
France: Protests intensify with strikes, blockades and mobilizations
By: Josefina L. Martínez / Source: La Izquierda Diario / Based on reports by Revolution Permanente / The Dawn News / May 17, 2016
As the resistance against the labor reform increases, so does repression.
Last Monday night, French truck drivers began a strike for an undefined period of time, convened by the main unions, as a prelude to the general strike convened for today, Tuesday, March 17. The truck drivers’ strike has had repercussions especially in Caen, where they blocked roads. Also in Rennes, the roadblocks have caused traffic jams that were kilometers long. Blockades in today’s harbors began in the early hours.
In Le Havre, thousands of workers and activists closed down the entries to the harbor and the industrial area. In Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, the harbor has also been completely paralyzed. The strike has also taken over the Total refinery of Donges (Loire-Atlantique), an emblematic epicenter of the 2010 struggle. “Not a drop of fuel will leave this refinery and no gas station will be replenished today”, said a union representative.
The strike has had strong repercussions in Nantes, where buses stopped working, Burdeos and Marseille. In Britain, protesters prevented a train from leaving the station by jumping onto the tracks.
Other unions have convened to “renewable” strikes (which have an indefinite length; their duration is renewed periodically through assemblies), including railroad workers and airport workers.
The decided presence of these workers in the strikes this week have tensioned the climate of protest. The struggles on May 17 and 19 have been convened by seven unions, with the support of general assemblies, coordinations, student unions and the movement of the Square of the Republic, known as Nuit Debout.
Hollande’s decree to impose the labor reform, bypassing the Parliamentary debate, sparked the outrage and radicalized the struggle.
The leader of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Philippe Martínez, affirmed today that “workers are willing to radicalize the movement”. The more combative sectors keep demanding union leaders to convene to a renewable general strike until the labor reform is defeated.
Hollande’s government, weakened by this wave of social conflict, suffering from a great loss of legitimacy and questioned by sectors of its own party, maintains that it won’t back down.
“Too many governments have backed down —hence the situation the country was in when I assumed in 2012— so now, it wouldn’t make sense if I backed down when a compromise has been achieved”, he said in a press round.
Trying to impose this unpopular reform by force, rejected by more than 70 percent of the population, the French executive has resorted to a completely anti-democratic method (resource 49.3), accompanied by a systematic and growing police repression.
Today, mobilizations have been drowned again in tear gas, in Paris and other cities. “Tear gas, tear gas and more tear gas” seems to be Hollande’s motto to face the wave of struggles and street protests. However, the repressive escalade seems to be generating the contrary effect: it sparks the indignation even more.
On Wednesday, police associations are convening to a demonstration of their own under the slogan “Stop hate against the police”, in an attempt to counteract the dismal image that they have. But the brutal repression they exert against mobilizations can hardly be seen under a different light. Nothing shows this anti-repressive sentiment better than the chant that has become so popular in demonstrations: “Everybody hates flics [cops]”.