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France - working class begin the fightback


making waves

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A spectacular amount of people were drawn into the streets on Tuesday 12 October for what was already the fourth “day of action” (mass demonstrations and strikes) in France since the beginning of September, reaching the record level of 3.5 million demonstrators nationwide.

No less than 244 demonstrations were reported nationally. 330,000 demonstrators in Paris, 230,000 in Marseilles, 145,000 in Toulouse,…the picture is the same everywhere. In Paris, some of the police sent to contain the demonstration joined the protests.

About 300 colleges and 400 secondary schools were disrupted by strike action, with students joining the protests all over the country. In Rouen, the school-student contingent on the march was four times bigger than on 2 October. “Sarko, you’re screwed, the youth are on the streets”, chanted students in Toulouse, as they joined the protests en masse for the first time.

Public transport, education, the metal and chemical industries, postal services, refineries and ports were significantly hit by strike action on Tuesday. But strikes were also reported in less “traditional” places: in Paris, hundreds of tourists were ushered away from the Eiffel Tower after the staff joined in the strike!

In the transport, the workers from the RATP (Parisian public transport) have voted in general assemblies for indefinite strike action from 12 October onwards. In a similar move, the SNCF (national railway network) unions have issued notice of renewable 24 hour strikes as well.

A strike at the port of Marseille’s Fos and Lavera oil terminals entered its 17th day. This strike and blockade is of strategic importance, since 40% of crude oil imported into France passes through these terminals. By their strike, the workers are hindering the supply of half the country’s oil storage sites! Also, workers at 11 of France’s 12 oil refineries, including all of TOTAL’s six sites, were on strike on Tuesday.

France: Biggest turnout in the streets for decades | socialistworld.net

The Strikewave spreads -

French youths battled riot police, truckers blocked roads and filling stations ran dry as protests escalated Monday against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at youths who set a car on fire, smashed bus stops and hurled rocks outside a school in Nanterre, near Paris, blocked by students protesting President Nicolas Sarkozy's pensions reform.

Youths threw petrol bombs at police outside a school in another Paris suburb, Combes-la-Ville, police said. In Lyon, hooded youngsters burned at least three cars they had overturned during clashes with riot police.

France24 - Tear gas and burning cars in pension reform protests

French motorists have begun a rush to petrol stations, despite assurances from the government and the oil sector that the country will not run out of fuel because of strikes at refineries and fuel depots.

France24 - Motorists rush to refuel even as government reassures

Unions said between 2.5 million and 3 million had taken to the streets on Saturday.

The French president is determined to stand firm on his plans to raise the retirement age, but unions have staged weeks of nationwide demonstrations to try to force him to back down. Five-day-old rail and refinery strikes are piling pressure on the government by disrupting travel.

Public and private sector employees and students marched in dozens of cities, with the biggest crowd assembling in Paris. The mood was upbeat, with disco music blaring, horns honking and chants of "All Together."

France24 - French unions and police at odds over protester numbers

French unions on Thursday called a nationwide strike for Oct. 19, hoping to galvanise the country into a drawn-out confrontation with the government over a proposed rise in the retirement age.

With some French people already fearing a national protest similar to one which paralysed the country in 1995, motorists have begun panic-buying of fuel after industrial action closed refineries and halted trains.

During protests on Thursday secondary school students chanted "Sarko, you're screwed, youths are in the street," as they marched through Paris.

"Young people are fighting for their future, and this is not the reform they want," Victor Grezes, a representative of secondary school students' union UNL, told Reuters TV.

The government insists it will see through a reform needed to clean up its finances and retain France's AAA credit rating.

However, a poll released on Thursday showed two-thirds of French people believe the sectoral stoppages could grow into a broad national protest movement that could paralyse the country as in 1995, when a 24-day strike crushed a pension overhaul.

France24 - Unions call for new protests Oct. 19 as strikes continue for third day
 


eoghanacht

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Much ado about nothing.

Did i not read somewhere that they are protesting about one measure that wants to raise the retirement age to 62?
 

Clanrickard

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During protests on Thursday secondary school students chanted "Sarko, you're screwed, youths are in the street," as they marched through Paris.

"Young people are fighting for their future, and this is not the reform they want," Victor Grezes, a representative of secondary school students' union UNL, told Reuters TV.
Why are young people out of school? On the doss methinks. This isn't about the working class because they are living in squalor in the banlieues and jobless. This is a cossetted pampered minority who are on the "inside" hanging on to their outdated privileges.
 

ne0ica

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France retirement age moved from 60 to 62. Who exactly do your working class heroes think will pay for thier pensions into old age.
 

Godot

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Why are young people out of school? On the doss methinks.
Because they realise that increasing the age of retirement will lead to further increases in youth unemployment.

This isn't about the working class because they are living in squalor in the banlieues and jobless.
#Fail
If you actually had a knowledge of France and it's social geography, you'd know that the most militant protests (or at least the ones that have had the biggest police reaction in terms of tear gas) have been in working class suburbs around Paris, Marseilles and Lyon.

This is a cossetted pampered minority who are on the "inside" hanging on to their outdated privileges.
#Fail
Support for the strikes is running at around 70% according to the polls here. Support cuts across public and private sector, oldies and school kids. To say that this is a 'minority' is simply wrong.

This is France, not Ireland. You're hackneyed, cliched assumptions hold no water.
 
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ne0ica

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Why are young people out of school? On the doss methinks. This isn't about the working class because they are living in squalor in the banlieues and jobless. This is a cossetted pampered minority who are on the "inside" hanging on to their outdated privileges.
Your right. The same thing happended when Chirac tried to reform the employment laws which would have made it easier for an employee to be let go. Thus France has a chronic unemployment rate and a marginalised young and ethnic population. Hooray for unions.
 

SeamusFrance

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September/October is the traditional 'opening session' of the striking year, after all the long summer holidays are over. Normally the strikers have no idea what they are striking for, they're just on autopilot, the theme is usually something like 'strike to preserve equality and fraternity in the state' or something equally nebulous.

This year, there was actually something real to strike about, hence the slight increase in numbers.

Surprisingly, most normal people just work their way around the inconvienience of limited buses/trains etc, it's a passive acceptance of the inevitability of it all.

The strength of unions has been gradually on the decline in France over the last 20 years, approx 11% of the workforce. Most of these strikes are just a pale shadow of former militant times.

Sarko, to his credit, has introduced some real legislation, minimum service in schools during strikes and stuff like that do blunt the effect of strikes in the last couple of years.

It will all blow over in the next couple of weeks, as people start thinking about upcoming holidays, xmas, what to wear, what to cook. Focus will shift to the important things in life :)
 

Fides

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Gotta love the French - they know how to protest. Will be interesting to see how serious they really are. If it is "very serious" then they will shut the country down - block roads, rail etc, might even set fire to a few lorry loads of imports. Question is has the government any wriggle room this time?
 

SeamusFrance

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Gotta love the French - they know how to protest. Will be interesting to see how serious they really are. If it is "very serious" then they will shut the country down - block roads, rail etc, might even set fire to a few lorry loads of imports. Question is has the government any wriggle room this time?
seriously very funny I'd say. It amazes me the deference so many posters on this site give to the french unions. In reality, this strike is very much the tail trying to wag the dog, and it's a small tall of a big dog.
 

Ghost Hunter

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Really hope Sarkozy stands up to the strikers. The Unions are beyond a joke at this stage.

People are living longer. Raising retirement age from 60 to 62 makes a lot of sense.
This is not some capitalist attack on the working class. FFS those unions really need a hard dose of reality.
 

Mossy Heneberry

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Why are young people out of school? On the doss methinks. This isn't about the working class because they are living in squalor in the banlieues and jobless. This is a cossetted pampered minority who are on the "inside" hanging on to their outdated privileges.
+1000. The cosy elitisit minority that want someone else to pay for their wasterel ways.
 

Godot

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+1000. The cosy elitisit minority that want someone else to pay for their wasterel ways.
70% of people polled by CSA (French equivalent of MRBI) support the strikes.

You can argue against the merit of the strikes, but the fact is that they have huge popular support. No one, not even the right-wing French media are denying this.
 

Super8

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Really hope Sarkozy stands up to the strikers. The Unions are beyond a joke at this stage.

People are living longer. Raising retirement age from 60 to 62 makes a lot of sense.
This is not some capitalist attack on the working class. FFS those unions really need a hard dose of reality.
It's not about Unions, it's about ordinary people. Sarkozy is not a natural French leader by any stretch. He's trying to dismantle the socialist democratic tradition of France. He's a right wing puppet.

It's the Governments who need a dose of reality and be firmly reminded that in the end, if you don't have the support of the people, you have nothing.
 

Super8

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It is utterly shameful that we don't have the dignity left to get out onto the streets like the French and cause massive disruption and sustained protest.

But any march I have seen here has been over-run by red-flagged angry young men who don't fit in anywhere and look to militant left as some kind of salvation and an excuse to avoid growing up.

I want to see all types out on the streets. No flags, no politics, just people.
 

ne0ica

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It is utterly shameful that we don't have the dignity left to get out onto the streets like the French and cause massive disruption and sustained protest.

But any march I have seen here has been over-run by red-flagged angry young men who don't fit in anywhere and look to militant left as some kind of salvation and an excuse to avoid growing up.

I want to see all types out on the streets. No flags, no politics, just people.
And achieve what exactly? Bring the country to a halt? Shut down the economy? What exactly would this for Ireland. Would all our problems go away. Maybe you should reflect more before post cheap and lazy left wing slogans here mate.
 

'orebel

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It is utterly shameful that we don't have the dignity left to get out onto the streets like the French and cause massive disruption and sustained protest.

But any march I have seen here has been over-run by red-flagged angry young men who don't fit in anywhere and look to militant left as some kind of salvation and an excuse to avoid growing up.

I want to see all types out on the streets. No flags, no politics, just people.
That's a cop out. Every protest we have in Ireland there's the usual armchair warriors on here saying they were going to attend but it was over-run by the socialist crowd or the shinners or PBP etc. etc. There aren't that many of them and if that many people really cared and joined the protests they'ld be so outnumbered their flags would go unnoticed in the throng. Irish people are just too apathetic.
 

A Time for Every Purpose

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Why are young people out of school? On the doss methinks. This isn't about the working class because they are living in squalor in the banlieues and jobless. This is a cossetted pampered minority who are on the "inside" hanging on to their outdated privileges.
Agree ,never thought I would say that,but you are broadly correct.
The idea of 'precarity' as they say is an anathema to certain protected people .

How can 16/18 year olds be worried about something 50 years from now ?
The 'system' will have changed beyond recognition by that time.
 

An Gilladaker

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And achieve what exactly? Bring the country to a halt? Shut down the economy? What exactly would this for Ireland. Would all our problems go away. Maybe you should reflect more before post cheap and lazy left wing slogans here mate.
FF have already achieved shutting down the economy no need for the left wing to bother :lol:
 

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