Sunday, April 19, 2009

France: More strikes called for May Day

Lisbeth Latham

On March 30, France’s eight union confederations issued a joint statement announcing they would organise a general strike on May Day.

The May 1 mobilisation will be the third general strike in France this year against the attempts of the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy to make working people pay for the global economic crisis.

There is also growing pressure for more ongoing actions to win the demands of the workers.

The joint statement issued by the union confederations called for a concerted effort to make the May Day mobilisation a new high point in the struggle to force the government to meet the demands raised by the unions on January 5.

These demands include the protection of public and private employment; resisting social and economic deregulation; policies that maintain the purchasing power of wage earners, the unemployed and pensioners; and defence of social protection and public services.

The unions committed themselves to make April a month of mobilisations in the lead up to May 1.

Following the joint statement, the radical Solidaires confederation’s national leadership issued an additional statement that reaffirmed its support for the unity in action achieved by the eight union confederations since the end of 2008.

Describing the two general strikes in January and March as “highlights” of the current workers' struggle, the statement argued: “These initiatives are a necessary step in the construction of the power that we must impose on employers and the government. But if we simply have ‘highlights’ every two months, this will lead to failure, as shown by the struggle to defend pensions in 2003.”

Solidaires repeated its call for an ongoing general strike. Similar calls have been made by the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), which has argued that more ongoing and intensified mass actions by working people were required to win the movement's demands.

Solidaires also raised five additional demands to those agreed on by all eight confederations. The demands included for measures to restrict the bosses ability to sack workers and to lower the working week; increases in wages and pensions; extra funding for public services; reforming the tax system to the benefit of the poor, starting with the eradication of the Value Added Tax; and increased protection of the livelihood of all workers.

Public support for the mobilisations continues to grow. An April 6 poll indicated that 76% of the population think that the May 1 mobilisations are a good thing. Even 61% of supporters of right-wing parties think the planned strikes are positive.

This is up from January, when 69% viewed the mobilisations positively, including 54% of supporters of the right.

With the next meeting between employer groups, unions and the government set for April 27, the debate over the direction of the struggle is set to intensify.

This article originally appeared in Green Left Weekly Issue #791


About This Blog

Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP  

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.