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France: Pressure mounts on Macron government
Leila Messaoudi and Cécile Rimboud, Gauche Revolutionnaire, CWI in France
Since the election of Emmanuel Macron - president of the rich - in May 2017, and after the onslaught of the French government against all sectors in society especially the public services - the railways (the SNCF), pensioners, young people, unemployed - we were expecting the day of action on 22 March to go well.
The pensioners' protest on 15 March, the countless strikes, walkouts, and struggles taking place every week around the country, had all built up into a successful mobilisation.
22 March was deliberately chosen by the trade unions because it was the 50th anniversary of the events that culminated in the general strike movement of May 1968.
This time there were up to 500,000 on the streets across the country. More than one in three railway workers were on strike and one out of every four primary school teachers.
If this day of action was not yet as big as the movement against the new anti-labour laws in September-October last year, the atmosphere on the demonstrations and the widespread public support for the strike showed that it is already significantly different.
Many groups of workers went on strike - some for the first time ever, some for the first time in a long time. We saw very diverse groups - much more than the traditional trade union contingents - the presence of young students in the main cities and groups of high school students on the move.
The strike was not only organised to fight back against the specific measures of the government but as a way to signal that this is the time to begin the counter-attack and to plan what happens next.
The government and the media in the hands of their friends, the billionaires, have gone to town in doling out tons of propaganda against the SNCF strikers but it did not work! A majority in society supports their fight to keep the railways public.
The presence of contingents of young people on the railway workers' protests in Paris indicates a feeling of the need to fight together. But so does the mixture of many different sectors of workers on the marches and the sizeable demonstrations in medium-sized cities and towns despite the cold early spring weather.
Workers in the private sector are also being hammered by the labour law 'reforms'. Public sector workers are suffering privatisation, massive job cuts and budget cuts. Young people are threatened by the thoroughgoing dismantling of school and higher education. We are all under attack from these policies. We have to mobilise in a united fashion.
The next strike dates of the railway workers are 3 and 4 April. These need to be major days of support and participation in the struggle on the SNCF.
The next date for strike action in both the public and the private sectors has been set by the CGT trade union federation for 19 April. This date should serve as a step towards building a massive, united all-together strike.
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