France: workers strike, many win

Strikers picket at Michelin factory

Restaurant and tire workers have won strikes with a bus drivers' strike ongoing.

Michelin - Workers at the factory in Toul (Meurthe et Moselle) began strike action after plans were announced to close it down. As well as occupying and blockading the plant with pickets of burning tyres the 826 workers also confined two managers to their offices during the four-day strike. They agreed to end the action after Michelin and the unions agreed a deal which would add a payment of €2400 for each year of service and that each worker would be offered at least two jobs at other Michelin sites with a further promise of travel allowances.

La Grande Armée - Nine undocumented workers appear to have won the right to stay in France after a five-night strike and occupation of the restaurant in Paris' 16th district. The workers have been employed on permanent contracts by the restaurant for betwen two and nine years. Now that the threat of deportation cannot be used against them the workers are free to demand payment for overtime and refuse to work on their days off. The workers curent earn minimum wage for a 39-hour week.

Carrefour - strikers at the hypermarket at Grand Littoral went back to to work after a 16-day strike. Having only partially achieved their aim, winning a 45c increase in their luncheon vouchers and for 2-3 extra hours weekly for till workers. Police attacked the pickets twice on Friday to try to force through two delivery trucks, injuring picketers and causing a pregnant striker and communist party councillor to require hospital treatment. Seven strikers from Grand Littoral are currently facing legal action for striking. The CFDT union agreed to the compromise, the CGT and FO refused to sign the deal but agreed to return to work to preserve workers' solidarity. A second one-day national retail strike has also been called for the Easter weekend.

CIF strike - Drivers at the company which provides bus services in the Ile de France region have been on strike to support a claim for a salary increase, workers are angry at the loss of a tax allowance. Pickets have shut down the service in Val-d'Oise and Seine-Saint-Denis for six days, drivers in Seine-et-Marne went back to work on Friday but have relaunched strike action with pickets from 4am this morning. Workers are demanding a €225 increase in basic pay to €1750 a month to replace the allowance that they calculate as being worth €150, management claim the loss is a mere €50. At the three main depots strike numbers on Tuesday were estimated at 54% at Goussainville, 78% at Tremblay, 75% at Dammartin-en-Goële.

National Print works - Strike action has entered it's fourth week at the site in Choisy-le-Roi (Val-de-Marne) as workers fight against goverment attempts to renege on promises made 3 years ago. The print works, founded in 1640 was turned into a state owned company in 1994. With the loss of its monopoly it saw large drops in sales and by 2006 70% of workplace had been made redundant. Management have sold off assets and now want to go back on the terms of the PSE (job preservation plan) agreed 4 years ago.

L'Oreal - workers went on strike today to prove that they were 'worth it'. After 4 years without a general salary increase workers are demanding one to restore their purchasing power. Management countered that individual salary increases have been given and that workers also receive performance bonuses. A union spokesman said that although bonuses were good due to their low salaries many workers used their yearly bonus to pay off their overdraft. Management estimated that 5% of the workforce joined the strike.

There are also reports that workers at Air France and Air Senegal are planning to give strike notices for 72 and 48-hour stoppages respectively to begin on March 14th, which threatens to OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) summit.