General strike in French Guiana

This video from France says about itself:

French Guiana: ‘A powder keg abandoned by the state’

FRENCH PAPERS – Mon. 27.03.17: The situation in French Guiana is making headlines. The overseas territory in South America has seen social unrest over the past week and there are calls for a general strike today. Meanwhile, less than a month before round one, many French people still don’t know who to vote for in the upcoming presidential elections.

By Kumaran Ira:

General strike declared in French Guyana

27 March 2017

A few weeks before the French presidential elections, French Guyana is paralyzed by a general strike. Strikes and road blockades have been ongoing for a week in this French overseas department in South America, bordering Brazil, based on demands on health, education, economy, security and housing.

Protests by health care, transport and energy workers are demanding jobs, pay increases and improvements to the quality of public services. After a week of strikes and demonstrations, largely launched independently of the union bureaucracy, the 37 unions gathered in the Union of Guyanese Workers (UTG) union federation voted to hold a general strike starting today.

At the same time, significant protest movements are mobilizing farmers and agricultural labourers in solidarity with the workers. In recent days, they have set up dozens of roadblocks that control strategic intersections in several cities, including the entrances to the cities of Cayenne, Kourou, Rémire-Montjoly and Saint-Laurent du Maroni.

A dozen roadblocks and strike action are paralyzing the Cayenne airport. A Paris-Cayenne Air France flight had to head back to Paris after four hours flight time when the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) radioed that it could not land in Cayenne airport due to a shortage of staff.

Striking electricity workers, Kourou hospital workers, and workers of the Endel corporation have blockaded the entrance to the Guyana space centre in Kourou. They were thus able to prevent the launching of the Ariane 5 rocket, the heart of Guyana’s economy, scheduled for March 21. “Due to a social movement, it was impossible to carry out the transfer operations of the launcher of the Final Assembly Structure (BAF) towards the launch area scheduled for today,” Ariane-Space declared in a statement.

Strikers also blocked the commercial port, the local authorities, the police prefecture and major roadways. Farmers are blockading the Agricultural Directorate’s buildings. Guyana’s schools, junior high schools and high schools have been closed by the authorities “until further notice.” University students are reportedly joining the protests.

The strike reflects deep social anger that is building among workers and oppressed social layers after five years of austerity under the Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande. In this department of 200,000 people, 22 percent of workers (18,000 people) are jobless. Youth aged 15 to 24, who make up 46 percent of the unemployed, are the worst hit.

Speaking to France-Info, Senator for Guyana Antoine Karam said there was in Guyana “more insecurity than in the major cities inside France itself.” He added, “nearly 30 percent of the population does not have access to either drinkable water or to electricity, but on the other hand we have a space station.”

He also pointed to “murder, and armed robbery” in Guyana, claiming, “People will carry out murder for 20 euros, a jewel or a mobile phone.”

Guyanese people underscored their deep disappointment with the Hollande administration and the French government. Hollande promised a Pact for the Future of Guyana, which is still not signed.

Maud, 29, a teacher at Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, told RMC: “Everyone has had it. People feel that no one ever talks about them, but that the situation is truly catastrophic. The Guyanese people have the impression that they have been abandoned by metropolitan France. They do not feel they are treated equally as compared to other departments.”

A month before the presidential elections, which are taking place amid explosive social anger in France, the PS government will seek to rapidly end the strike in the overseas department, before it triggers solidarity protests and strikes inside metropolitan France.

4 thoughts on “General strike in French Guiana

  1. Pingback: French Macron wants destructive gold mining in French Guiana | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: French students, workers protest against racism or Big Business election | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: French military violence in Réunion colony | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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