France: Protests take international turn

As the protests agains the First Employment Contract (CPE) continue in France, young workers and students across the world have begun to show support for the French movement or take similar action themselves.

Submitted by libcom on April 4, 2006 has received reports from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Brazil, the USA, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey so far, with actions ranging from university occupations and school walkouts to protests against French consulates and businesses.

See also French version below.

February 1st to March 2nd

Students occupied the rectorate of Bielefeld university since 1st February in a protest against the introduction of student fees. From 15th February students at Padeborn University were occupying the rectorate of the area's high schools. As of 2nd March these occupations were evicted by force.

University of Sussex, UK
8th March

Students occupied Sussex University Library to protest against redundancies and cuts in staffing, some declaring solidarity with students in France.

March 15th

There have been reports of Italian students travelling to France to show their support for the protestors.

Fukuoka, Japan
March 19th

During the anti-war demonstrations in March 19th, young workers in Fukuoka carried placards against the CPE and new PSE laws which will come into effect in Japan in the near future.

Auckland, NZ
March 21st

Over 1,000 high school students walked out of class to protest against youth pay rates, whilst linking their protest to the events in France. The protest ended with some violence and a sit-down protest in a major intersection.

Dublin Ireland 23rd March

The Irish group Anarchist Youth leafleted the Alliance Francaise Cultural Institute in Kildare Street Dublin with information on the CPE and protests in France.

Gothenburg, Sweden
March 25th

Workers in Gothenburg, Sweden smashed several windows on the Centerpartiet local office in protest against new labour laws proposed by Maud Olofsson, The Chairman of the Swedish liberal party Centerpartiet. She openly admitted that she has been directly inspired by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepins controversial French CPE law.

Windows also got shattered at the French Consulate in support of the struggle in France. In the evening, about 500 people, youths and workers, gathered at the central plaza in Stockholm to demonstrate against the Centerpartiet attack on worker rights and in solidarity with the youth revolt in France.

The demonstration marched towards the Franch embassy while demonstrators shouted slogans that this was only the beginning for people in France and Sweden.

When the demonstration reached the embassy a line of police horses blocked the path of demonstration, but the were forced to retreat as the demonstration defended itself with rotten eggs and snowballs. The demonstration then turned back and marched towards the Old City and the main office of Centerpartiet. Along the route windows of banks and governments building where smashed.

25th March and ongoing

Hundreds of thousands marched in rallies and strikes across the USA to protest against anti-immigrant bill HR 4437. In the days following the demonstration tens of thousands of students have walked out of high schools and held spontaneous demonstrations, blocking traffic and picketing city halls.

Several thousand students have been involved in walkouts in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona, in some cases having to break out of their schools to join demonstrations, which have included blocking traffic and in one case throwing rocks at the US border patrol headquarters.

On Monday 26th a walkout in Los Angeles county involved around 36,000 students. In San Diego, 30-40 student protestors were arrested for truanting on March 29th during one of the protests, and there were reports of 250 students and 80 police officers fighting a pitched battle with blocks of concrete outside Oceanside High School. Demonstrations and further arrests were also reported in Houston, El Paso and Los Angeles.

Copenhagen, Denmark
March 28th

200 protested in front of the French embassy in solidarity with French youths.

Izmir, Turkey
28 March

Militants of the MKLP (Marxist Leninist Communist Party) bombed an Izmir branch of the insurance company Axa OYAK in solidarity with French workers and youth opposing the CPE.

According an email message from MKLP militants the bombing of the Izmir Bornova branch of Axa OYAK was timed to support the general strike in France.

In the local 'Haber Express' newspaper an article headlined “Bomb panic in Bornova” recorded that "At around 1.00 am at the junction of Özkanlar 259th and 228th streets a bomb explosion caused panic. The force of the explosion blew out the windows of an insurance agency. Police teams stressed that the likely cause of the explosion was a sound bomb, and that an extensive investigation had already been started."

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
29th March

A number of demonstrators including two French nationals leafletted outside the French Consulate, then attempted to gain entry. They were stopped by security and a scuffle ensued.

New York, USA
28th March

Young people from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) marched to the French Consulate in Manhattan with banners calling for the withdrawal for the CPE.

SDS was one of the main groups involved in the university occupations and teach-ins in the US during the late '60s, which has been revived in 2006 with 30 chapters across the country.

31st March

Friday 31st March at 7pm a group of around 60 people assembled in front of the French consulate in Barcelona in solidarity with the struggle of the french people against the "CPE, precariousness, exploitation by work, slavery of workers...". A cordon of 20 mossos d'esquadra (Catalan cops) blocked the entrance of the consulate. In November there were two arrests at the consulate during a demonstration held in solidarity with the uprising in the suburbs.

Photos from some of these demonstrations at: