France On Strike – Everyone Together!

From young to old, the French workers are fighting against the attacks of the government. The movement, in spite of intense opposition, and even police repression, continues to grow. Every week a new section of the population comes out in support of the movement, first the workers, then the high school students, then the university students. They are joined by the movement of undocumented immigrants. The feeling on all levels is this time we can win, but only if we go out, everyone together. The main slogan of the movement – “What the parliament does, the streets can undo.”

A Brutal Law – Pension Reform

The French government has imposed a brutal law reforming the pension system in France. The law would:

  • Force workers to work two years longer – from age 60 to 62, before they can retire.
  • Force workers to wait two more years from age 65 to 67, until they get full benefits.
  • Workers who work especially dangerous or physically taxing jobs will have to work five more years, from age 55 to 60.

Power in Numbers

Since the pension reforms were announced, the law has received growing opposition.

  • Since September there have been six days of national protest against the reforms with about three million people marching in the streets each time.
  • Railway workers on strike have shut down 30 percent of France’s railway system.
  • Oil refinery workers are on strike at all twelve of France’s oil refineries, leaving most gas stations empty.
  • Garbage collectors in Marseilles are on strike, leaving three weeks of garbage uncollected.
  • Truckers have brought traffic to a standstill on roads and freeways across France by forming convoys of trucks and driving slowly across all lanes.
  • Since the beginning of October students have begun to protest in the high schools.
  • Undocumented immigrant workers, on strike since last year, have occupied the French Museum of Immigration and are demanding legal status.
  • All of these actions have joined together against the attacks of the government. Workers have come to defend students against police. Students have joined workers on the pickets. The immigrant workers joined the big demonstrations.
  • According to polls, 70 percent of French people support the strikes.
  • In spite of this the French government has not backed down. They passed the pension reform into law last week. But the workers of France have not given up. Another major day of strikes and protest is scheduled for October 26th.

The French workers have shown how to respond to the attacks of the government. And the government is scared. The strikes, demonstrations, and protests all show the power that workers have, to lead a fight against the intolerable attacks by the government. And people support them. It is a lesson for people everywhere under attack by budget cuts and so-called reforms. Together we can fight back!