French workers and students fight on

French strikers' demonstration

France: Workers and students continued to mount strike action over the weekend against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts: here.

The popular uprising against plans to raise the retirement age is costing the French economy up to €400 million (£356m) a day, the finance minister said on Monday: here.

Students protested across France today before today’s National Assembly vote on President Nicolas Sarkozy’s regressive pensions reform Bill: here.

Opponents of French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s drive to raise the retirement age vowed today to continue their battle after French MPs approved the final text of his unpopular Pension Reform Bill by 336-233: here.

Workers, pensioners and unemployed people joined massive union-led protests in Bucharest today against the coalition government’s cuts agenda: here.

India: Through a combination of mass arrests and intimidation, the Tamil Nadu state government is working to repress a militant strike of workers at a factory owned by the Taiwan-based [Foxconn] company: here.

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has launched a crackdown on “microfinanciers” in the wake of 56 suicides that were allegedly linked to aggressive loan collection tactics: here.

Microfinance destroys the lives of the poorest Indian families: here.

The recent horrifying death of a young female worker at the Nokia factory in southern India stands as an indictment of the unsafe working conditions that prevail in most of the country’s industry: here.

6 thoughts on “French workers and students fight on

  1. Mechanics’ strike grounds aircraft

    Finland: A strike by aircraft mechanics grounded domestic flights on Monday and could spread to international traffic if it continues, aviation officials reported on Monday.

    The mechanics voted to take action after union representatives and management failed to bridge differences on wages and working hours.

    No further details were given and it was unclear if talks were to resume.


  2. Minister defends spending cutback

    Austria: Finance Minister Josef Proell (above) sought to defend his austerity plan on Monday in the wake of a rally to defend the welfare system.

    The plan, presented by the governing coalition at the weekend, foresees €1.2 billion (£1.1bn) more tax revenue and cuts of €1.6 billion (£1.4bn) for 2011, bringing it below the EU’s 3 per cent limit a year earlier than expected.

    Over a thousand demonstrators gathered in Vienna on Sunday night in protest at the proposals, which have yet to be approved by parliament.


  3. Clashes, protests in French tensions over pensions
    10/22/2010 | 02:32 AM, PDI Online

    PARIS – Police used tear gas and water cannon against rampaging youth in Lyon on Thursday while the French government showed its muscle in parliament, short-circuiting tense Senate debate on a bill raising the retirement age to 62.

    Despite growing pressure, President Nicolas Sarkozy held firm on a measure he says is crucial to the future of France, heightening the standoff with labor unions that see retirement at 60 as a hard-earned right.

    Weeks of protests have left at least a quarter of the nation’s gas stations on empty, blocked hundreds of ships at the Mediterranean port of Marseille and even forced Lady Gaga to cancel Paris concerts.

    Violence on the margins of student protests has added a new dimension to the volatile mix.

    A march in Paris by at least 4,000 students was peaceful, but new violence broke out in Lyon, where police used water cannon and tear gas to hold back rampaging youths hurling bottles and overturning at least one car.

    “It is not troublemakers who will have the last word in a democracy,” Sarkozy told local officials in central France, promising to find and punish rioters. He accused strikers of “taking the economy, businesses, daily life hostage.”

    The tough talk extended to parliament where the government short-circuiting a protracted debate on the retirement bill by ordering Senators to vote on a package of its own design.

    Labor Minister Eric Woerth, announcing the decision to call upon Article 44-3 of the Constitution, explained there would be a single vote this week on a package — and no voting on the remaining 250 of some 1,000 amendments.

    The final text was expected to be adopted next week by both houses.

    The French government — like many heavily indebted governments around Europe — says raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and overhauling the money-losing pension system are vital to ensuring that future generations receive any pensions at all.
    French unions say the working class is unfairly punished by the pension reform and the government should find money for the pension system elsewhere. They fear this reform will herald the end of an entire network of welfare benefits that makes France an enviable place to work and live.

    “We cannot stop now,” Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Workers’ Force union, said Thursday of the protest movement.

    Unions have held several rounds of one-day strikes in recent months, but scattered actions have turned increasingly radical as the bill has made its way through parliament.

    “I don’t want to die at work,” said one Bordeaux student from the Bel Orme High School, among some 3,000 who protested in the southwest city. She identified herself only as 16-year-old Cassandra.

    Students barricaded high schools and took to the streets nationwide Thursday afternoon. Hundreds filled the port of Marseille — where dozens of ships waited in the Mediterranean after days of strikes have blocked access to a key oil terminal.

    Student protests have forced the government to its knees in the past, and in recent days some have degenerated into violence.

    Shopping streets stood nearly empty Thursday in central Lyon. The Bistrot de Lyon didn’t put tables outside as usual, out of fear of clashes.

    “We’ve seen a reduction of 30-35 percent of business overall, for the last few days with the rioting in town. Lunchtime, nothing is going on, we’ve no one. It’s more than calm,” said restaurant manager Philippe Husser.

    In Nanterre, the scene of running street battles between masked and hooded youth and riot police in recent days, the scene Thursday morning was calm, said Mehdi Najar, one of a few dozen red-jacketed mediators organized by city hall to help keep the peace.

    In Marseille, hundreds of workers blocked access to the main airport for about three hours early Thursday. Passengers tugged suitcases along blocked roads as they hiked to the terminal, before police moved in to disperse protesters.

    Wildcat protests blocked train lines around Paris. Protesters in cars and trucks blocked several highways around the country, from near Calais in the north to the Pyrenees in the south, according to the national road traffic center.

    Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux lashed out at “certain people who take parts of our territory for battlefields.” Speaking on Europe-1 radio Thursday, Hortefeux said 1,901 people have been detained since early last week.

    Hortefeux insisted that the country has several weeks of gasoline reserves and that “the trend is toward improvement” in supplies. Still, he said a quarter of France’s gas stations lack fuel.

    Kamal Guerfa works — or at least shows up for work — at a gas station in Lyon. But on Thursday, there was nothing to pump.

    “We are here, ready to work, there’s no problem with that. The problem is that people come to get gas and there is none,” he said.

    Laurette Meyer’s heart sank when she saw the empty pumps.

    “It is penalizing. We work in the building construction business. We have employees who drive all day long in order to build the houses for our customers and it’s starting to be very difficult,” she said.

    Families around the country are on edge over the gasoline shortages because school vacations start Friday.

    Authorities, however, are hoping the vacations cool off student tempers.

    On Thursday morning, students shut down the Turgot High School near the Place de la Republique in eastern Paris after a student union vote. Teens sat in the middle of the street, barring traffic. Some sang songs and chanted slogans under eye of the police.

    The U.S. Embassy in Paris warned Americans “to avoid demonstrations currently taking place in France.” The warning said peaceful demonstrations can escalate into violence, and urged visitors to check with their airlines in case of airport disruptions, and check with rental car agencies about the availability of gasoline.

    Workers for Airbus and Hewlett Packard marched through the streets of the southern city of Toulouse, where the city university is closed because of student protests. Ten other universities were also blocked Thursday.

    In Strasburg in the east, protesters blocked a sluice on the Rhine.

    The strikes are hitting the entertainment industry, too. Lady Gaga’s website says the singer postponed two Paris concerts scheduled for Friday and Saturday “as there is no certainty the trucks can make it” to the show.—AP



    By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
    Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
    19 October 2010

    We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, are in solidarity with and support the millions of workers, youth and other people in France who are conducting a general strike against the extremely exploitative and repressive policies of the French state and its master class, the monopoly bourgeoisie.

    We condemn the so-called pension reform raising the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 and all other austerity measures calculated to further shift the burden of crisis to the working class and the people. We likewise condemn all the repressive measures that the Sarkozy government has undertaken to suppress the strikes and mass protests against the high rate of unemployment and the ever deteriorating working and living conditions.

    We consider as of decisive importance all concerted actions of the workers and people that expose the root causes of the current grave crisis of the world capitalist system. Such actions counter the diabolical scheme of the monopoly bourgeoisie and its Rightist agents to use chauvinism, xenophobia, racism, religious bigotry and other forms of reaction in order to conceal the roots of the crisis, apply state terrorism on the people and further exploit them.

    We salute the working class and people of France for adopting brilliant tactics in order to make their general strike effective against the vicious efforts of the Sarkozy government to stop it. The blockade on the major fuel refineries and oil depots and other tactics have paralyzed the system of oppression and exploitation. We are pleased that the transport workers and all labor unions throughout France are participating in order to make the strike even more effective nationwide.

    We commend all member-organizations and allies of ILPS in France for participating resolutely and militantly in the general strike. We call on you to help intensify the struggle in coordination with all other striking organizations. All member-organizations and allies of the ILPS throughout the world wish the utmost success for the current general strike and for all the further just struggles of the working class and people of France.


  4. Unions to rally against cuts

    Romania: Some 80,000 trade unionists will participate in a mass rally in central Bucharest today against the coalition government’s regressive austerity programme.

    National Trade Union Bloc official Ioan Pisc said that all five national trade union confederations will be represented at the march to the capital’s Constitution Square, in front of the socialist-era Parliament Palace.

    MPs are due to vote on a motion of censure against PM Emil Boc’s administration and Mr Pisc vowed that protesters will kick off more direct action and “resort to an all-out strike” if the vote favours the unpopular government.


  5. Pingback: Sister Mary MacKillop, from excommunication to sainthood | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: French students’ solidarity with workers’ protests | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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