General Strike In France

General Strike In France

Yesterday - 12th October - there was a General Strike in France - the third in 5 weeks (the others were Sept. 7th , & Sept. 23rd (see Developing Struggles in France). Possibly as many as 3,500,000 marched in the streets for the withdrawal of the extension of the retirement age from 60 to 62 or from 65 to 67 for those only eligible for State pensions.

The strike was pretty extensive, effecting both French and international capital (for example, Ryanair alone had to cancel over 230 flights). Though the strike was certainly not total it involved air traffic control, rail and buses, refineries, schools, universities, gas and electricity sectors, docks, post offices, weather forecasting stations (who made sure the rain, for the most part, didn't scab on the strike), tax collecting offices and loads of other sectors - even some municipal police went on strike (the poor things are openly complaining about suicidal depression because of the stress). Blockades and General Assemblies appeared fairly extensively and many sectors will continue the strike indefinitely. Loads of lycees (High Schools) took part, with even the Ministry of Education admitting to over 230 blockades (though the State's statistics are only slightly more reliable than the "99.9% for Ceacescu"-type election results the old Stalinist regimes put out). Many of the lycee strikes have been launched through Facebook or SMS, though there are a couple of Unions, often with hidden political agendas, behind them as well.

And, of course, there was the traditional mini-riot at the end of the Paris demo as night fell, without which no large Paris demo is complete.

In itself this doesn't sound very interesting - another 24-hour General Strike over some detail of government policy, one, moreover, that seems fairly unimportant to those who can only retire at 65, as in the UK (possibly the majority of those who read these threads and news items). But this detail is rapidly becoming merely a pretext for a more total critique of this sick stupid society.

Take this roughly translated leaflet, which I've only just seen, announcing the showing of a film from the movement of 1986 about the "Lascars" ("likely lads"/ "rascals") of Lep (see: 1986-87: France Goes Off The Rails) - to be shown on Thursday opposite a school in Ales in Languedoc-Roussillon, a school which has been an important part of the current blossoming of lycee (High School - for 15 and up) blockades :

Quote:
Fast forward and no retreat!
Reform of the retirement age, attacks on immigrants, sackings, massive stoppages of unemployment pay for the unemployed and more widely, a growing repression of all those who are poor, young or marginal...The State wants to guarantee the bosses "favourable" conditions of exploitation.
This policy goes beyond national borders. In Spain, Greece, Portugal, Germany or Ireland....the same "austerity plans" are concocted in ministerial offices. The rulers' aim is to dynamise the economy confronted by global competition.

And this is going to make us keep our noses to the grindstone, to slave away, to "tighten our belts" for the interests of the class in power!?

If the same political logic is found in the four corners of the Earth, it's for the "necessities" of economic development and certainly not for the population. The capitalist system always concentrates wealth more and more. The means of production are concentrated in less and less hands. To continue this road, the system can only intensify social violence. No State, no government will change a thing. The engine has been started up and the institutions which depend on it grease its wheels without restraint.

The only force that can derail it is ours': that of the exploited, the excluded, those without a future...It's vital to intensify the movement and organise the convergence of different struggles. The battle launched by High School students, by train drivers, by dockers....is born out of the same refusal to accept the fate reserved for us. The secondhand car sales talk of the unions and leftist parties reinforce our separations for their own interests and sell-by election dates. It's by acting together that we can get out of our isolation and so see our battles succeed.

The emergence of a strong autonomous and radical social movement, necessitating the participation of all proletarians, is an urgent and obvious need, essential throughout the world.

Wherever we are, let's get together and struggle to build a real and concrete resistance.

Contact: uncollectifenlutte@riseup.net

The strike has continued in some sectors today - in Paris, for instance, only 25% of trains were running this morning, causing massive traffic jams (though, as with the Ministry of Miseducation statistics, these statistics seem to change constantly even though they cover the same periods of time, probably depending on the balance between the stress being heaped on the statistics compilers and their valium/cocaine intake). And everywhere there are several lycees which didn't come out yesterday which are coming out today. Likewise, sporadic General Assemblies are springing up all over the place, proposing things like blockades of banks, disruption of traffic by means of turning roadworks to subversive use, occupations of social security offices - but so far today it remains to be seen what comes of these types of proposals.

The demand for the withdrawal of the retirement age extension within capitalism is essentially a demand by those who don't want to face the anxious necessity of having to make a revolution even to achieve the smallest improvement in their condition: capital can only withdraw this reform by even bigger attacks - by making enormous cut-backs in State expenditure elsewhere to recover the loss, along with massive hikes in indirect taxation (VAT, etc). Such people don't want to draw the obvious revolutionary conclusion even from such a fairly minor aspect of intensified misery as the extension of the retirement age. They'll probably vote for the PS (Socialist Party, an increasingly neo-liberal racket with the IMF head, Strauss-Khan, as the favourite for the next presidential candidate). The PS is currently promising to lower the retirement age back to 60 (though whether they'll do it at election time is another question). Given the enormity of the State deficit, the austerity attacks make more capitalist sense than perhaps in the UK - which is why the State's virtually unbendable and which is why all the leftist blah is rather like Scargill during the miners strike trying to be 'reasonable' (within capitalist terms ) didn't make sense - you either struggle for a community against capital with ideas as part of this struggle or you get caught up in all sorts of uselessly complex contradictions by talking the language of your enemies.

Capital flight - disinvestment - is a possibility in the not-so-long term and has to be taken on board as part of the problem of international struggle. And capital flight can/will take place as a result of a possible significant uprising - with or without tax hikes for the rich. Lefty arguments -"vote for us and we'll turn the state into your servant" - still seem to assume some relative autonomy of each nation state, or else they fantasise that, with them riding to power on the backs of some social upheaval, they could get back to this relative autonomy; either way, it's an impossible utopian capitalist perspective.

It's all or nothing.

I could - and will - say a lot more, but for the moment, check out these poster slogans from the 23rd September strike, from Tours.

Comments

Entdinglichung
Oct 13 2010 11:46

regularly updated stuff in today's mobilisation in French here: http://humanite.fr/13_10_2010-mobilisation-la-suite-455617

Samotnaf
Oct 13 2010 12:12

Entdinglichung:

Quote:
regularly updated stuff in today's mobilisation in French here: http://humanite.fr/13_10_2010-mobilisation-la-suite-455617

- but being part of

Quote:
the secondhand car sales talk of the unions and leftist parties

(i.e. the French Communist Party and the CGT), take what they say with a Siberian mine-full of salt. They're certainly not crudely Stalinist like they were in '68, but no better for being subtler.

Baderneiro Miseravel
Oct 14 2010 12:51

I have taken the liberty of translating and distributing this text to inform my comrades here in Brazil. Please keep bringing up these very informative texts, translation of other texts of use to english too if at all possible.

Solidarity with the struggle in France! It really gives us hope to see this kind of movement appearing in what is widely considered here "an ideal country to live in", "developed", "high standard of living", etc.

I'm really busy right now, but I'd like to ask some questions later about the movement so we can learn more with what is going on there. Cuts on social benefits and extension of retirement age is also in the goverment plans here in my country, so there are possibilities of similar movements popping up. With similar leftist babble being thrown about, too.

Anyway, here is the translation in IMC Brazil: http://prod.midiaindependente.org/pt/blue/2010/10/478871.shtml

And the translation in IMC Portugal:
http://pt.indymedia.org/conteudo/newswire/2469

Samotnaf
Oct 14 2010 14:24

Great! I'll tell my Potuguese-speaking and Portugal-connected friend to publicise it as much as possible in Portugal.

Too busy at the moment to update this properly, but I can say just this - that above all, the lycee movement is extending itself, and there have been blockades by others as well - of crossroads and roundabouts, for example. Only 2 (officially - though at first they were saying only 1) refinery is functioning - the other 10 are on strike, and significant shortages are threatened/promised for some time next week. At one refinery - Doges - the refinery workers are joining with lycee students, teachers and various others in joint actions.

Watch this space - or better still - publicise what's going on and apply what's applicable to your situation.............

Caiman del Barrio
Oct 14 2010 15:56

badeiro, thanks, please let me know about any further translations into Portuguese. I'll put them on the Anarqlat (Latin American anarchists) list, where the only reports in Portuguese are about idiot bank bombings in Canada, Chile, etc...

varlet
Oct 15 2010 11:26

Thanks for all the reports and updates Samotnaf.

Quickly, a few things police-related, as a footnote:

A couple of days ago, a police union denounced how the official figures indicating how many people demonstrated on Tuesday were a joke and not credible. In Marseille for example, unions indicated 230 000 protesers and official figures 24 000. A 1 in 10 difference. I agree that figures on their own do not tell much about the movement though. But its quite rare that even the police say the government is manipulating the figures...
Article here

Generally the police have been busy beating up people or shooting them with flash ball guns.
A number of students have been injured, including one in Montreuil (Paris area) by a flash ball, possibly filmed here:
Article and video here
The Head of Police in Paris has just suspended the use of flash ball guns for now due to the severity of the student's injury around the eye.
Goes out without saying that all the well-meaning left-leaning humanists are outraged by how the police “misbehaved” and should not have made such a “mistake”. At each demo they seem to discover that the police can be violent but they never understand that its not a mistake. Its what they do.
Anyway, there was more student mobilisation this morning in Montreuil, near where the student was injured on Tuesday.

Here's a video of journalists being seriously hassled by the police. Its translated into English too:
Article and video here
You can hear the idiots saying “dont beat us up we're from the press we're not like the others”. Pathetic but typical behaviour from those journos. No sympathy for the protesters and illusions about the police behaviour. Guess that one got what he deserved...
Then same again, the whole corporation was outraged by the police behaviour, demanding an enquiry, etc... Those who have been seriously injured but werent from the press wont get no enquiry or sympathy from the journos. The implication being that they probably deserve beating up...
See here for example
Article here

About the movement and the mobilisations etc, theres information on the websites below (in French again sorry). Im not saying they're good or bad but they could be useful to people:

Reports on Indymedia
http://paris.indymedia.org/

General information about strikes and mobilisations:
http://www.7septembre2010.fr/
http://engreve.wordpress.com/

Anarchists websites:
http://www.federation-anarchiste.org/
http://www.c-g-a.org/

General articles:
http://rezo.net/themes/retraites

Let's strike until we retire!

Jason Cortez
Oct 15 2010 14:18
Quote:
Goes out without saying that all the well-meaning left-leaning humanists are outraged by how the police “misbehaved” and should not have made such a “mistake”. At each demo they seem to discover that the police can be violent but they never understand that its not a mistake. Its what they do

I know where you coming from with this, but I think expressing outrage at the behaviour (whether surprised or not) is the least we should do in these circumstances. If we don't it simply normalises the police's violence (yes I know that police violence is 'normal' in this society) and our complicit acceptance encourages the police to push the boundries to worst levels of abuse.

Quote:
The Head of Police in Paris has just suspended the use of flash ball guns for now due to the severity of the student's injury around the eye.

For example the outrage caused this temporary suspension. Whilst we may bemoan the 'left's' sowing of illusions in the state benovelence, we shouldn't 'throw the baby out with the bath water' to prove how radical we are.

Samotnaf
Oct 15 2010 15:30

I think the reason for the Paris Head of Police suspending the use of flashball guns is because the government is telling them to hold back on any violence for fear of provoking a greater explosion. This is not just my opinion - but also others' in different parts of the country. In 2006, Sarkozy, as Minister of the Interior, explicitly told the cops not to be nasty to students and lycee students - and was very worried when a guy (a postman, iirc) got battered by the cops and was in a coma - worried he might die because in 1986 during an explicitly anti-government policy (the Devacquet reform) movement an Arab got killed by the cops and all hell broke loose - and the government had to withdraw the bill virtually immediately. Between movements it's considered by the State to be more or less ok for the cops to deliberately tip over and kill banlieux joyriders on scooters or motorbikes (the media are more obviously compliant, for one thing) - but part of the reason May 68 exploded was because the cops were so blatantly vicious. The State prefer to use the cops in our heads, more deeply entrenched nowadays in France than 40 years ago, than have to resort too much to those in uniform.

These reports will soon take the form of a blog, as admin have suggested.

Jason Cortez
Oct 15 2010 17:08
Quote:
I think the reason for the Paris Head of Police suspending the use of flashball guns is because the government is telling them to hold back on any violence for fear of provoking a greater explosion. This is not just my opinion - but also others' in different parts of the country.

I am sure you are right and the expressions of 'outrage' would also inform this IMO, because as you say

Quote:
Between movements it's considered by the State to be more or less ok for the cops to deliberately tip over and kill banlieux joyriders on scooters or motorbikes (the media are more obviously compliant, for one thing)

No outrage equals no restraint.
The police have been a lot more hands off over here since Ian Tomlinson's killing IMO this is due to them needing to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the 'public'.

Hieronymous
Oct 16 2010 10:24

French high school students block the access of the Arago high school in Paris October 15, 2010 during a fourth day of a nationwide protest against pension reform. The placard reads ''Arago in the street. Sarkozy, you are done!''.

UPDATE (as of early Friday) from Mouvement Communiste comrade in Paris (with percentage of strikers in each sector):

Private sector:

Citroën Aulnay less than 150 strikers (among 4000). Renault Flins same figure.

Public sector:

Post office in Paris no more than 40 %, in fact 33%

Education 15% with some local exceptions due to specific problems

Health 30% but this could vary. Strong contingents in demonstrations (Paris Orléans Quimper ie places where we have been)

Paris Metro less than 33% and variable according to lines

Paris bus no figures but less than 20 %

Paris RER B strong exception 75 %due to some historical and specific conditions (these workers will be transferred from RATP Paris transit authority to SNCF french railways)

French Railways:

Up to this week few participants above all to assemblies. This weeks strike has been going on for three days but figures (for engineers) do not reach half of what happened in 1995. Comrades say that the mood is not here.

Exceptions:

Total oil refineries: 66% of strikers and on-going blockades that can lead to fuel shortages. Because for a year Total has had a restructuring plan to close many refineries (6/12)

Marseille dockers: specific strike in a stronghold of the Stalinist CGT

Marseille city council workers are in competition between CGT and FO union and struggles against right wing mayor

Nord Pas de Calais in these two northern departments a “left” Stalinist CP has launched Italian style strikes of a few hours in about 30 factories (Alstom, Bombardier, but not Renault nor Toyota) blocking production with less expenses for workers.

New development:

Secondary school students have appeared in the demonstrations with some school blockades by a minority. But the government has given orders (for political reasons and with the policy of preventing strikes from the beginning) to police to smash demonstrators which has happened in some Paris suburbs and some provincial towns like Caen, where a young demonstrator was brutally beaten and whose condition is between life and death.

On the contrary, in Montélimar 200 demonstrators escaped the control of a union-led demo and smashed the city council, while in Saint Nazaire workers confronted the police in front of the Prefecture gates (local tradition) and of 57 arrested, all were workers.
____________________________________________________________

UPDATE excerpted from World Socialism Web Site:

Of particular concern to the government was the rising wave of high school student demonstrations. Yesterday [Friday, October 15] roughly 900 of France’s 4,302 high schools were on strike, of which 550 were occupied. At the same time, demonstrations with hundreds or thousands of students took place throughout France.

Students marches (and number of participants):

10,000 in Toulouse

8,000 in Rennes

7,000 in Bordeaux

5,000 in Brest

4,000 in Reims

2,000 each in Orléans and Tours

1,500 in Montpellier

1,000 in Caen...

At the SNCF national railways, most workplace assemblies decided to continue strike action. According to press figures, 4 in 10 TGV high-speed trains, 50 percent of Paris regional trains, and 40 percent of non-TGV long-distance trains were running.

Strikes are also hitting ports, oil terminals, and refineries. Tug crews are on strike, shutting down the docking of all vessels—tankers, bulk freighters, and container traffic—which remain off French ports.

With 11 of mainland France’s 12 refineries affected by strike action, particularly around the strategic Fos-Lavéra oil center in the southern port city of Marseille, there are reports of gasoline shortages throughout France. These are widespread in Corsica and southern France, but are also taking place sporadically around the country in cities including Nantes, Amiens, and Paris. Several gasoline depots have also gone on strike, blocking delivery from Fos, Bassens, and Le Havre facilities...
____________________________________________________________

UPDATE excerpted from Reuters news story (Friday October, 15):

Striking French oil refinery workers shut down a fuel pipeline supplying Paris and its airports on Friday and airport workers grounded some flights as protests mounted to derail an unpopular pension reform.

France's airport operator played down worries of fuel shortages, but strikes at all of France's 12 refineries and fuel depot blockades have prompted motorists to stock up on petrol.

Truck drivers also were set to join the fray as momentum built for a day of street rallies on Saturday...

A protester throws a tire on a fire set to block the entrance to fuel storage depots in Caen on Friday.

Samotnaf
Oct 16 2010 11:17

First about the lycee student who had a flashball fired in his eye. Apparently all the guy was doing was putting dustbins on the barricade - nothing but that (and this comes from people who are not into playing the outraged lefty), when a BAC cop, having just participated in the eviction of a squat nearby, came along and gratuitously fired the flashball. The media are saying it was a riot cop (CRS). The only explanation for this lie is that the CRS have a generally recognised reputation for being thugs, particularly after '68, when, amongst other things, they were known to have raped women arrested in the riots. The BAC (set up under the PS president Jospin),however, get an inordinately good press, being portrayed on national TV as sad victims of banlieux estate ambushes, etc. They presumably want to maintain this image for those who have no direct experience of them. By the way, this is the second time the cops have fired a flashball into the eye of someone in the small but volatile Paris suburb of Montreuil in just 15 months - the last time being in summer 2009, fired in the face of a demonstrating squatter. That time the guy lost his eye - but this time, the good news is that the 'kid' is going to be able to see in both eyes. The 2009 guy was a "politico", and it happened without a national movement going on, so it got hardly any dominant media coverage. No "outrage" that I know of. But the current outrage has been just verbal so far - a demonstration yesterday immediately following the news that the guy could lose his eye never got further than shouting. The cops in people's heads remained pretty much in power. No talk of an eye for an eye.

The lycee students are increasingly on strike, even according to the Ministry of Education - the highest figure they gave, though they changed it later, was 350. The UNL (Union Nationale des Lyceens) gave out the figure of 900, and, given that almost all the ones in Montpellier were on strike, I'd guess that their figure is quite a bit closer to reality than the Ministry of Education's. Everywhere, school students are blocking traffic, and setting fire to small things like bins stacked against school fences. There are also condemnations of these burnings by the more strait-laced, who rush to put them out with their mineral water bottles, telling the media that this is ruining a serious political struggle, whilst the cops arrest more and more of the less delicate lyceens.

Lorry drivers are saying they're coming out next week, and all 12 oil refineries are now on strike, though so far, the strikers and the unions have let the gendarmes take over the gates and allow petrol tankers to go back and forth. But the bosses of some airports are claiming that there's only enough petrol for planes up until Tuesday (19th October) morning, the day of the next - the 4th this autumn - General Strike. A train driver on telly just said that they want this to extend to all Europe, because it concerns everyone there as well.

There was a riot in Lyon yesterday, and lots of little confrontations all over the place. But the unions and the PS are emphasising negotiations all the time - and, given that this evening, with national demonstrations this afternoon, could well become riotous, I'd guess that the government will back down over its refusal to negotiate and the Unions and Socialists will grab the chance of dampening down the flames if lack of petrol doesn't dampen them down beforehand.

I'll say more tomorrow when I have a bit more time, probably through a blog, because admin might have it set up by then. I'm now off to the demo.

Beltov
Oct 17 2010 08:19

Have spoken to one of my ICC comrades in Paris who said there are regular general assemblies of radicalised workers in Paris, with quite a high level of political discussion, much criticism of the unions. I'll see if we can get a report from him about it...

Beltov
Oct 18 2010 07:39

LoneLondoner has asked me to post this contribution, which is made in an individual capacity (there'll be more articles on the strike sin France in the next issue of Revolution Internationale, which will be out in a couple of weeks)...

==============

Sorry for not getting back to you earlier, but we've been so much in the
thick of things that we've not had time to sit down and write anything
in English. We'll be writing in more detail soon of course, but what
follows is an individual take on events from what I've seen, taken part
in, or heard about directly.

It would be a great exaggeration IMHO to talk about a General Strike,
what we have is a series of one-day stoppages called by the unions in
certain sectors (mostly but not solely the public sector). These are by
no means total stoppages (in Paris for example the trains and metro
still run, though with reduced traffic). In some cases the mass meetings
have voted for rolling strikes (ie carried on from one day to the next),
but the degree to which these are held is very spotty. It's sometimes
hard to know what the unions are up to. For example, the strike in the
refineries (very strongly controlled by the CP-influenced CGT) started
in the West, and was completely irrelevant since the refineries were
already running out of oil as the result of a dock strike which stopped
the tankers from unloading.

That said there is undoubtedly a great deal of anger at the law on
pensions, both from older workers who are faced with the prospect of
suddenly having to work several more years to get less, and for the
young who see this as just another proof of their own gloomy prospects.
One striking school student (from what they call a "lycee
professionnelle" ie sort of apprenticeship class) remarked on TV: "They
say we'll have to work till 70, but it's just not possible - just look
at the state your parents are in when they get back from work, who could
go on welding till 70?".

In some ways the most interesting thing is the leaflets put out by very
small groups of militant workers, not affiliated to any particular
organisation, calling for unity across trade boundaries and independent
of (or even against) the unions. At the Gare de l'Est in Paris, there
was a General Assembly of about 100 people called by rail workers and
teachers, which met to discuss ways of extending and strengthening the
strike. Some of the participants put out a leaflet which has been posted
on our French site:

http://fr.internationalism.org/forum/312/tibo/4365/prenons-nos-luttes-main

- if anyone can translate this help would be welcome) which attacks all
the unions (even the CNT-Vignolles!), all the left and Trotskyist
parties, and puts things in terms of a crisis that goes far beyond
France or the question of pensions.

In Rouen there were some of the biggest demos we've seen for a long
time, with a big contingent from Renault-Cleon. There've been big demos
in Tours also.

In Toulouse, there have twice been more or less spontaneous meetings of
about 300 people at the end of the demonstrations (we've never seen this
before), who have refused to disperse as usual and have wanted to stay
on the spot to debate the situation and what is to be done (one of the
meetings was made possible by someone with enough practical sense to cut
the cable of the CGT loudspeaker van, so for once you could hear
yourself speak). Some meetings were held in front of the Bourse de
Travail as well - all this is completely outside the control of the unions.
In Toulouse again, plain-clothes police tried to arrest - brutally - a
couple of youngsters tagging a wall. The demonstrators saw this and a
crowd of them rallied round and forced the police to let them go (though
they were later re-arrested at their home).

That's a very brief run-down of a few events: the strikes are continuing
and show no sign of dying down for the moment. We'll keep you posted.

==============

Beltov
Oct 18 2010 14:07

BBC now reporting that truck drivers have joined the protests:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11563423

Yorkie Bar
Oct 18 2010 14:18

thanks for the ubdates y'all, interesting stuff.

~J.

Ed
Oct 18 2010 14:39

Man, those Frenchies don't play! Good stuff!

baboon
Oct 18 2010 16:44

"ADDRESS TO ALL WORKERS

On the initiative of rail workers at the Gare de l’est and the teachers o the 18th, a hundred workers (rail, education, post, food, information, retired, unemployed, students, workers with or without papers, unions or not, came together on September 28 and October 5 to discuss retirement and more generally the attacks we are suffering and the perspectives for pushing them back.

There’s been millions demonstrating and striking at the last days of action. The government has still not withdrawn the attacks. Only a mass movement will be up to doing so. This idea made its way through discussions around an unlimited general, rolling strike and a blockage of the economy.

The form that this movement takes is our business. It’s up to us to confront this at our place of work through strike committees and where we live through sovereign General Assemblies. The must bring together the largest number of the working population; coordinate at the national level with elected and revocable delegates. It’s for us to decide the means of action and our demands. Nobody else.

Leaving Chereque (CDFT), Thibault (CGT) to decide for us is to prepared the way for new defeats. Chereque is for the 42 years. We can’t have any confidence in Thibault, who is not asking for the withdrawal of the law, as we remember him in 2009, drinking champagne with Sarkozy while thousands were being sacked, leaving us to fight separately. We have no confidence in the so-called “radicals”. The radicalisation of Mailly (FO) is to shake the hand of Aubry in demonstrations whereas the PS votes for 42 years. As to Sud-Solidaires, the CNT or the extreme left (CO, NPA), they offer us no perspective other than union unity. That’s to say the unity behind which they want to negotiate these reverses.

If today, they are riding the horse of the rolling strike, it’s above all to stop it getting out of control. Their grip on our struggles gives them admission to the tables of negotiation from the CFTC to Solidaire “to spread the point of view of union organisation with the perspective of defining just and efficient measures in order to assure the durability of the system of retirement by sharing it out”. Can one think for a single moment that there can be any agreement with these wreckers of our retirement since 1993, with those that have undertaken the methodical demolition of our conditions of life and work?

The only unity capable of pushing back the government and the ruling class is for public and private to unify, working or unemployed, retired and youth, workers with or without papers, union members or not based on common General Assemblies and controlling the struggle ourselves.

We think that the withdrawal of the law on retirement is the minimum demand. That isn’t sufficient. Hundreds of thousands of older workers are already surviving on less than 700 euros a month while hundreds of thousands of youngsters live from hand to mouth on the RSA when they have no work. For millions of us the crucial problem is being able to afford housing, to look after and feed ourselves. We don’t want this. Yes, the attacks against the retired are the trees that hide the forest. Since the beginning of the crisis the ruling class, with the help of the state, has thrown hundreds of thousands of workers onto the streets and got rid of thousands of jobs in the public sector. And we are only at the beginning. The crisis is continuing and the attacks against us will become more and more violent.

To confront them, above all, we must have no confidence in the parties of the left (PC, PCE. PG...), they have always loyally managed the affairs of the bourgeoisie and never called into question industrial and financial private property as well as the great landed properties. Moreover, in Spain as well as Greece, it’s the left in power which is organising the offensive of capital against the workers. For our retirement, health, education, transport and in order to be starved to death, the workers must monopolise the riches of society in order to provide for their needs.

In this struggle, we shouldn’t be seen to be defending sectoral interests but those of all the working population, including small peasants, fishermen, artisans, small merchants who are thrown into misery with the crisis of capitalism. We must get them behind us and put ourselves at the head of the struggles to better take on Capital.

Whether working, unemployed, precarious, without papers, whatever our nationality, it’s the whole working class that is in the same boat.

Meet up to discuss in the GA
Tuesday October 12 at 1800 and Wednesday 13 at 1700 bourse de travail, Metro Republican

From workers and precarious workers of the AG interpro of the Gare de l’Est, l’ecole_durable_trenteseptcinq@yahoogroupes.fr

8.10.2010"

Above quick, rough translation linked to above by Beltov. On the ICC's French website they say that around a 100 workers across the spectrum have been meeting every week since the beginning of Sept. They say that they don't agree with every dot and comma of the leaflet but support it overall particularly from the needs of the whole class.

During a one hour BBC news broadcast yesterday, the only mention of France was that its foreign minister had stated that there was a chance of an attack on France by al Qaida and nothing remotely about what the BBC coyly term "French pension reforms".

In respect of Britain, the BBC propaganda is that the cuts have been accepted here, the public sector is greedy and bloated and they fixate on what the unions are going to do. The elements of the British ruling class that matters know full well that their best line of defence for capital against the working class is that the divisions are maintained by their trade unions.

Beltov
Oct 18 2010 21:54

I thought the order of the items on BBC 10 O'clock news was interesting tonight:
- Terrorism: review of British military strategy
- Economic crisis: Labour's approach to dealing with the deficit
- Terrorism: inquiry into the 7/7 attacks
- Economic crisis: France, with most focus on violence in the protests

Every effort made to keep the economic crisis aspects isolated. Big austerity cuts announced here Wednesday...

ernie
Oct 18 2010 22:20

Interesting very brief report on France 24 by a reporter at a school in Nantrerre (Northern Paris) where the report said that the police had used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesting kids. 15 minutes later on the News headlines the report was about the kids protest being hijack by 'outsiders' who set cars on fire. Two very different angles in 15 minutes!
It does sound like provocateurs may have been at work. One of the young people said that some people turned up set the cars on fire, said they didn't care, and then pissed off. Leaving the kids to face tear gas and rubber bullets. All very useful for the state and media to present the otherwise disciplined protests as the actions of thugs.

Joseph Kay
Oct 18 2010 22:39
Beltov wrote:
Have spoken to one of my ICC comrades in Paris who said there are regular general assemblies of radicalised workers in Paris, with quite a high level of political discussion, much criticism of the unions.

I've heard this from CNT-AIT comrades too, that assemblies are fairly common as is distrust of the unions. however, it's been pointed out to me (possibly on libcom) that this partly reflects the different industrial relations framework. non-union members are covered by union agreements, so you don't need to join to get some of the benefits (assuming they exist, for arguments sake), which means there's much lower union membership, which means there's more scope for assemblies and more scope for those to take a critical attitude to the unions, since there's less material basis for a 'we are the union' type attitude.

likewise i'd warn about being excited about assemblies per se, even ones with lots of political discussion. in my very limited experiences (the Sussex Uni occupation earlier this year), much of the political discussion was just politicos soapboxing, some who'd travelled to make 'interventions' and give their version of the correct line. this often dragged on assemblies for hours with little firm conclusions, and many of the less politico workers/students involved just left the room/went for booze. to be honest, it drove me from the room sometimes. it can be hard to tell what the dynamics are from a distance, but that's what it looked like from the inside in that one instance; a shift from concrete action to abstract sloganeering and a corresponding shift from mass action to politico soapboxing. France may well be different, i certainly hope it is!

baboon
Oct 19 2010 13:21

I don't think that we should get carried away about anything but the response of the working class in France (strikes in Belgium, Bangla Desh in the last few days) are an improvement on the quiescence and divisions shown up to now in the working class. Similarly, we shouldn't get excited by the appearance of assemblies of workers, unemployed, students, etc., ie, elements of the working class across the board. But again these still represent a positive move forward over carved-up union demonstrations with each corporation behind their own banner and all others excluded. Nor do I think that we should get carried away about criticisms of the trade unions but, again, these are the tendencies that revolutionaries would want to encourage since they go along with self-organisation and taking the struggle under the control of the workers themselves.
So, no getting carried away, but the working class in France is showing potential elements of a significant fight back against the attacks of capital. Equally, the bourgeoisie of other European countries will not be getting carried away by events in France, but they will be watching them very closely and not without some trepidation.
I don't think that the positive elements of this fight back can be put down to the specificities of the situation of workers in France as Joseph K tends to above, but to the condition of the working class generally. These attacks are just beginning.

On the point made above by Ernie on provacateurs; there's an eyewitness report on the ICC's French website that saw 4 or 5 unkempt, slicked back hair, etc., young guys in the middle of the Toulouse demonstration on the boulevard d'Arcole milling about who turned out to be cops.

gypsy
Oct 19 2010 18:33

cheers for updates guys.

jef costello
Oct 25 2010 10:40
Samotnaf wrote:
In 2006, Sarkozy, as Minister of the Interior, explicitly told the cops not to be nasty to students and lycee students - and was very worried when a guy (a postman, iirc) got battered by the cops and was in a coma - worried he might die because in 1986 during an explicitly anti-government policy (the Devacquet reform) movement an Arab got killed by the cops and all hell broke loose - and the government had to withdraw the bill virtually immediately.

In 2006 I think the orders were more about not directly attacking demonstrations during the day. The demonstrations always got more dangerous towards night (as you know). There were also plenty of cases where the police incited people to attack demonstrations and allowed people to cross police lines to do so.
The postman was Cyrile Ferez iirc he got beaten by the police then the CRS dragged him into the road and marched over him at least twice before moving him again then finally dumping him somewhere. He actually made a full recovery in the end but he was in a coma for days.
Thinking back the flashballs were used fairly sparingly against students at the time, they were used pretty indiscriminately in the banlieues (especially in 2005).
Samotnaf, this is good stuff, I'm just catching up on your reports now. All the other contributions are great but your work here is very extensive.

Steven.
Oct 25 2010 12:20

yeah, Jef, if there was any way you could help keep us up-to-date with what is going on that would be much appreciated.

Red Marriott
Oct 25 2010 12:55

Good selection of recent French photos here;
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/10/france_on_strike.html

fort-da game
Oct 31 2010 17:50

In an attempt to approach similar events in a non-patriotic form, I wrote a text following the 2005 demonstrations, below is an extract:

Quote:
If idea driven events have their place, the Haussmanised
streets, then they also have their temporality. The state knows
exactly how long demonstrations and rioting last... it has its
stopclock running on your marks, get set, go: first there is the
cause, then there is the outbreak, followed by the wildfire, then
there is the street fighting, then there is the consolidation and the
mass mobilization, then there is the defiance and movement for
continuation, then there is the full-stop mass demonstration, then
the melting away to other matters. In all, the fever takes about
two weeks to pass. 

http://salon.lettersjournal.org/viewtopic.php?id=1437

Samotnaf
Nov 1 2010 05:54

Yeah, you've heard it all before, nothing new under the sun, nothing surprises me, jaded worldweary blah blase blah blase blah.

But it ain't over just because the spectacle says it is.