France: Let Them Hear Our Anger!

Teachers, students and families strike and protest the poor handling of the pandemic. (Image Creidt: Bob Edme)

January 17, 2022, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), Comrades of Speak Out Now, Translated from French

On Thursday, January 13, the National Education system went on strike en masse. Even the leading parents’ federation had called for children not to go to school.

Teachers are fed up

It has to be said that the frustration has been widespread. On January 3, for Blanquer (the Minister of Education), the start of the school year was supposed to take place “normally,” in the middle of the Omicron wave. Still without protection: no surgical or FFP2 masks, no CO2 sensors, no aerators, no saliva tests in schools… But with a new sanitary “protocol”, which was announced on the eve of the beginning of the school year by the media! Another incomprehensible move, requiring that children who were in exposed be tested every two days…

The result was a massive mess that aroused the anger of the teachers who, by their own account, have been patient and obedient for twenty months! But it also awoke the exasperation of parents who had to juggle childcare and long lines at overflowing pharmacies.

The government’s concerns

The strike on the Jan. 13 was called by all the unions, but it started from the grassroots. It was a massive strike that led to a shift in the government’s attitude.

Because they are well aware that the frustration is real.

Indeed, the health crisis has revealed long-standing problems in the national education system: overcrowded classes, insufficient staff… Just as within the healthcare system, the government has continued to cut hundreds of positions each year despite the crisis. Although even more resources are needed to address the inequalities in education that have exploded since the confinement, what we get is quite the opposite.

The strike on the 13th allowed us to raise our heads, giving us the satisfaction of seeing Blanquer pushed to the background by Castex (the Prime Minister)… But that’s not enough! Castex has only given us a few crumbs.

A group of unions have set a date for the continuation of the strike on Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. A date for an intersectoral strike on wages, which has been proposed for some time by the trade union confederations.

Preparing for a global movement

This day should not be limited to just another trade union demonstration because it has the potential to become so much more!

The reasons for frustration among teachers are the same as those of healthcare workers, public service workers, and really, workers in all companies: job cuts, unbearable working conditions and salaries frozen for years.

In the private sector, not a week goes by without a strike on wages in companies like Dassault, in Anglet, where last week the employees demanded: “Two hundred francs or no Rafale (fighter jet) !

The 27th is therefore an opportunity for us to get together, public and private sector employees alike, to express our frustration with lousy wages when prices – and profits! – are exploding. We are fed up with working in conditions that are only getting worse. This is our opportunity to take back control and demand a general increase in wages and massive hiring.

This is our opportunity to build our strength, to regain confidence and to find the solution to a widespread struggle, the only way to get what we need.