Wednesday, November 14, 2007

John Mullen: Class struggle in France

My thanks to John Mullen my, cough, cough, correspondent in France for this guest post on the current industrial action taking place across the channel. John is editor of Socialisme International and you can also find him here. John previously wrote a piece at the Daily (Maybe) on the French Presidential elections.

Though of course the election of Sarkozy was a big blow to workers here, the resistance is beginning to crank up.

Train workers are striking against the destruction of their pension deal, civil servants are aiming at pay rises and job creations, students are angry at the imposition of influence from private companies in universities, magistrates are campaigning against cuts.

The transport strikes started Tuesday, and are looking pretty solid, at least at first. The trains and metro have called « renewable strikes ». This is a French thingy,a nd it means that every evening the strikers have a big meeting in each depot and vote to continue or not. The advantage is that it is very difficult for union bureaucrats to call off strikes without persuading the rank and file strikers. The disadvantage is that every mass meeting is isolated from the rest and doesn't always know how strong the fight is elsewhere. This is why we press for « interpro » mass meetings, with strikers from different sectors deciding together. In any case it is all very class struggle. In October's strike, there was a meeting of railwaymen and school teachers organized. It is pretty brilliant.

The trains are on strike from Tuesday evening, electricity and gas from Wednesday. The following Tuesday the civil servants (hospitals local government and teachers) are on strike for the day - it might just be « renewable » but it usually isn't.

Meanwhile the students are getting organized - there are fifteen or so universities blockaded to protest against the new law on universities. The issue is not as clear and simple as the First Labour Contract was, but the universities have moved faster at the beginning because of the experience two years ago.

So, pretty exciting all in all.

1 comment:

Colin F said...

Good to see my mate John Mullen on your blog. For more news of France and the world, see my blog Le Poireau Rouge

Anti-Sarkozy à fond !!!