Macron’s so-called great debate is about to end. And even if he is extending it a bit more, despite being described as “exhausted” and “close to burn-out,” he will soon publicise his “conclusions” … But while he dreams of “new measures to wow the crowds,” the yellow jackets, mobilised for four months, have continued to face batons and grenades to demand dignified living conditions and more social justice. They expect nothing much from the coming half measures, and they are right! It is already clear that the government will not abandon the attacks that are already planned against workers. Pension reform is in preparation, as is a reform of the public service.
Layoffs by the shovel
The bosses are on the offensive. Layoffs announcements are on the rise again. In the Sarthe area, 800 employees of the Arjowiggins paper mill are about to lose their jobs. They have been laid-off for operational reasons for nearly three months now, and they are angry. They have been tricked into passively waiting for a buyer by public authorities, local elected officials and union heads that have used the pretext that making noise might scare off potential buyers… And yet the Sequana corporation that owns the factory has posted revenues of €2.8 billion in 2017: more than enough to keep all the jobs with little effects on profits!
The closure of the Arjowiggins paper mill would add to many other redundancy plans and plant closures recently announced by prosperous corporations: Kingfisher will close 11 Castorama and Brico Depot stores; Carrefour wants to cut 1,300 jobs in 2019 after cutting 4,500 jobs last year; automakers are planning 10,000 to 15,000 job cuts with the closures of the Ford plant in Blanquefort and PSA plants in Saint-Ouen and Herimoncourt, and the Bosch factory in Rodez is under threat.
Job cuts in the public sector
The public sector is threatened by job cuts, too. A new bill presented to the House of representatives reaffirms the goal to cut 120,000 jobs by 2022, including 70,000 for regional authorities and 50,000 for State public service. The bill also introduces a series of measures to push public servants to retire early and thus facilitate hiring temps and using short-term contracts.
Discontent is contagious
But with this kind of future, and with the government forging ahead with repression, discontent is becoming widespread.
The yellow jackets, still mobilised, show determination: some are starting to take back roundabouts, or join other movements.
That’s because anger is spreading and is getting expressed in all sorts of local conflicts: to get the “Macron bonuses”, for better work conditions or for a wage increase. Around Lyon, garbage collectors have been on unlimited strike for over two weeks.
Primary and secondary education teachers take to the streets with parents
Teachers are also taking part in many days of protests against the bill on the so-called “school of trust”, against high school reform, and to ask for more resources for education, from pre-school to high school. On March 30th, they were close to 30,000 to demonstrate across the country, joined by parents and, in several cities, joined by yellow jackets.
Macron is becoming “isolated”, his closest advisors are leaving him? Seems like Bouteflika is not the only one to be dropped by his inner circle. Perhaps in high places, such as the presidential residence, some people are getting scared by the convergence of different fights. Together, let’s establish connections, and show them they are right to be afraid.