Student strikes begin in France

Students across France are voting to strike to protect their right to an education and to demand improvements.

Submitted by jef costello on November 6, 2007

In the last two weeks 48 general assemblies have been held in French universities, 33 of which had more than 100 students and 7 more than 500. The main focus of the students' anger is the Pécresse law (on 'autonomy') which is seen as the first step towards privatisation of universities.*

Students also have many other demands mainly relating to increased budgets for universities, more bursaries, more student housing, removal of campus security and amnesties for militants, some of whom are being punished for action during the anti-CPE movement.

Students have been voting on a variety of measures, usually strikes, blockades and demonstrations. During the anti-CPE movement many tactics were used, such as flying blockades of roads, railways and airports. As the movement develops we can expect to see these tactics re-emerge.

At a coordination meeting attended by representatives from 21 universities and observers from two more an agreement was reached to launch protests on October 30th and November 8th and to attend the teachers' strike on the 20th. They also voted to call AGs at their universities at which they would call for strikes, pickets, blockades and occupations. They also agreed to call on Secondary school students to join them (as they did so effectively during the anti-CPE struggle) and for solidarity with all staff strike actions.

The first universties to go on strike were Tolbiac and Rouen: at Tolbiac (Paris I) 100 students are occupying buildings, in Rouen the literature, psychology and sociology buildings have been blockaded since October 30th. 2000 students voted to continue the strike at the last AG, and agreed to hold a demonstration Thursday night.

In Toulouse students voted to begin strikes on Tuesday, they have erected barricades to block rooms and buildings, there will be an AG on Thursday to decide if the strike wil continue and to decide on participation in the day of action.

Aix, students originally voted for strike action but felt that the AG was not well attended enough for the decision to count.

The administration at Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Grenoble and Paris-Tolbiac decided to close the campuses after students had voted for strike action. This has been taken as an attack on the right to strike, there are pickets and possibly and occupation at Aix.

Nantes, October 23rd some 300 students voted to condemn the law and to march to the local town hall in protest.

Perpignan, students set up filtered roadblocks on the two main access roads into campus.

Tours, la faculté de lettres François Rabelais is closed

Lille III, blockade voted for by 300 to 260

Rennes II almost 800 voted today to block the university and to join the demonstration on Thursday at 2.30 that had been called by Rennes I. It has also voted to host a national coordination meeting at the campus this weekend.

Caen hundreds voted to join the strikes.

Tolbiac, 300 voted for strikes and pickets at an AG. The occupation was abandoned after a tied vote, although the Richelieu ampitheatre is still occupied, there were scuffles when some geography students tried to re-open it for a lesson. The CRS are preparing outside.

Sorbonne, at an AG today 400 voted for a strike and for an occupation. An occupation was begun by around 100 students. Several calls were put out for reinforcements to hold the buildings after an initial CRS attempt to take back the building, apparently the CRS succeeded in taking them back at around 11pm. The strike committee are reporting no arrests and there are plans for a demonstration tomorrow and probably an attempt to retake the building.

Lyon, an AG has been called for tomorrow to vote on strike action.

Nanterre, an AG has been called for Thursday. (a 1000 strong meeting voted for strikes until the next AG on Monday, with pickets to begin Friday morning and an occupation to begin as soon as students returned from the demonstration at Bastille)

*The new law will almost certainly lead to an increase in selection (currently anyone who has a baccalaureat or has worked full-time for three years has the right to enrol). Students also fear that tuition fees will be introdued and that as a result of competition between universities many subjects, especially humanities, will simply disappear.

Statement from Perpignan strike committee

Statement by Tolbiac strike committee

CNT has issued a statement of solidarity with the Sorbonne occupation and other student actions which can be seen here along with statements and communiques by student strike committees.

Appel de Toulouse (statement issued by the student occupation)

Overview taken from the Nantes student strike blog.

- Metz : 50 en AG
- Nancy II : 350 en AG
- Dijon : 200 en AG
- Reims : 500 en AG
- Grenoble I, II, III : 300 en AG
- Lyon I : 100 en AG
- Lyon II : 200 en AG
- Lyon III : 25 en AG
- Rouen : 1000 en AG et Fac Bloquée
- Rennes I : 60 en AG
- Rennes II : 450 en AG et fermeture administrative.
- Lorient : 50 en AG
- Brest : 150 en AG
- Bordeaux I : 90 en AG
- Bordeaux II :80 en AG
- Bordeaux III : 200 en AG
- Limoges : 50 en AG
- Tours : 200 en AG
- Angers : 150 en AG et blocage du Conseil Administratif
- Caen : 300 en AG
- Amiens : 300 en AG
- Lille I : 250 en AG
- Lille III : 300 en AG et blocage le 8 novembre
- Paris I : 1000 en AG et Fac fermée
- Paris III : 150 en AG
- Paris IV : 250 en AG
- Paris VI : 100 en AG
- Paris VII : 100 en AG
- Paris VIII : 350 en AG
- Paris X : 300 en AG
- Paris XII : 30 en AG
- Paris XIII : 65 en AG
- Toulouse I : 150 en AG
- Toulouse II : 1000 en AG et blocage le 6 novembre
- Toulouse III : 100 en AG
- Pau : 100 en A
- Aix-Marseille : 800 en AG et fac fermée
- Montpellier II : 80 en AG
- Nîmes : 500 en AG
- Perpignan : Fac bloquée