Friday, October 15, 2010

French Unions Call New National Strike as the Movement to Defend Pensions Continues to Grow

Lisbeth Latham

The inter-union coordinating committee that has led the movement in defence of pensions has announced a new national strike for October 19, to follow the national strike already scheduled on October 16. The call for the next national strike comes as indefinite strikes continue in a large cross section of French industry.

In a statement issued on October 14, the inter-union argued that the mobilisation of 3.5 million workers and students on October 12, the largest of the movement thus far, demonstrated the opposition of workers and the broader public to “unfair and ineffective reforms that exacerbate inequality without ensuring the sustainability of the pension system”. The unions called on their local organisations in both the private and public sector to take united action to amplify the actions on October 16 and 19.

Since October 12, indefinite strikes have continued to operate in wide number of industries. According to the Trade Union Solidaires’ daily strike bulletin indefinite strikes are occurring in the following sectors:

  • Oil refining, where the six TOTAL refineries are currently shutdown, 11 of 12 refineries in the country are affected by the strike. \
  • The state rail system
  • The Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transport as well as public transport in Dunkirk, Clermont -Ferrand, Poitiers, Dijon, Nancy and Marseilles
  • Plants in the metallurgy, chemical and glass industries
  • The Ministry of Finance
  • A number of departments and museums in the Ministry of Culture.
  • In a number of local government authorities across France.
  • LNG terminals and ports
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Electricity and Gas distribution
  • Education
  • Postal Service
AFP reported on October 15, that 300 schools across France had been affected by student protests with clashes reported to have occurred between students and police in Paris and Caanes. In its October 15 strike Bulletin Solidaires condemned police violence directed towards high school students.

The October 19 strike will occur a day before the scheduled final vote on the Pension Bill in the Senate, the inter-union will meet on again on October 21 to plan the next initiatives in the campaign.


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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.

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