French workers keep fighting Macron’s austerity

This 29 January 2020 video is called French protesters take to the streets in 8th protest day against pension reform.

By Alex Lantier in France:

30 January 2020

On Wednesday, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth marched in protests across France in a further “National Day of Action” against President Emmanuel Macron’s widely opposed pension cuts. Anger is still building against Macron, even after rail and transit workers, starved of strike pay … were forced to end their six-week strike and return to work last week.

January 29 protest in Paris

The demonstrations were large, though figures released by both the police and the trade unions indicated a somewhat smaller participation than the previous protest, on January 24. According to the unions, 35,000 protesters marched in Toulouse, 10,000 in Bordeaux and 7,000 in Le Havre. …

Armored riot police kettle a section of the protest

In Paris, police arrested 13 demonstrators when clashes broke out at a march attended by 180,000 people, according to trade union estimates.

Amid a global upsurge of working-class struggles, including mass protests in Iraq, Algeria and across Latin America, strikes of teachers and copper miners in [the United States of] America, and mass strikes by tens of millions of workers in India, strikes continue to break out in France. Workers at Paris garbage incineration facilities, employees operating ferries connecting Marseille to Corsica, and sewer-cleaning workers across France took strike action against Macron’s cuts yesterday. …

'[Education Minister] Blanquer—End my wage freeze', this teacher's sign says

Macron’s LRM party and the [pro-government trade union federation] CFDT will discuss state budget deficits, claim there is no money, and demand that the cuts be adopted as a matter of economic necessity. …

Boycott the Macron-CFDT (pro-government union federation) conference, it's a trap. To end the cuts call a general strike, the sign says

Macron, King Louis XVI, royalist, his party is complicit. Dictatorship will not be tolerated. What do you deserve when you attack the people. Remember the Nuremberg trials, the sign says

Alain, a “yellow vest” and retired bus driver attending yesterday’s protest in Paris, told the WSWS that Macron’s reform was “looting the people,” with pension cuts amounting to hundreds of euros monthly, or more. …


As a result, Alain added, even though “in every country, the people are rising up against a sort of new world order,” in France “many more people should have been out protesting.” He added, “I think then this government would not last long.”


Salim, a RATP (Paris mass transit) worker, told the WSWS that he had returned to work out of economic necessity, as his wages and savings had run out. He added that he is following mass protests by workers in the Middle East and around the world. “We must feel solidarity with them,” he said, “because the wealth produced by the workers everywhere is being harvested by the bosses and big capital.”

This 28 January 2020 video says about itself:

Firefighters clash with riot police in France protests

Police have used teargas and water cannon on protesting firefighters in Paris. Thousands of firefighters attended the demonstration in the French capital, asking for an increase in their hazard bonus, which has not changed since 1990.

The Alex Lantier article continues:

As protests began yesterday morning, news was spreading of violent clashes that erupted Tuesday between the government’s Republican Security Companies (CRS) riot police and firefighters protesting Macron’s cuts. With tensions high after a CRS cop shot a firefighter’s eye out with a rubber bullet at a protest last autumn, thousands of firefighters arrived in Paris in full fire-proof emergency gear, defying orders not to wear protective clothing to protests.

The firefighters’ heavy clothes and gas masks provided good protection from tear gas, and a running battle between firefighters and CRS units ensued in Paris as firefighters tried to reach the circular highway around the city to disrupt traffic.

Videos show how firefighters repelled an initial CRS baton charge, broke the CRS line and seized their plexiglass riot shields. Keeping close to retreating CRS police to limit their ability to fire rubber bullets and stun grenades, they chanted the call to arms from the Marseillaise, France’s national anthem. The CRS deployed truck-mounted metal barriers to halt the firefighters’ march, firing stun grenades and water cannon to protect the barrier, and then illegally shot a potentially lethal rubber bullet to the head of a firefighter who climbed onto the water cannon to wave a flare.

Firefighters pried apart several of the panels in the truck-mounted barrier, breaking it open, and shouted at the riot police, calling them “traitors to the French nation” and “Nazi collaborationists” for not defying Macron’s orders to attack demonstrators.

Created in December 1944, after the fall of the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime in World War II, the CRS were initially a new name given by General Charles de Gaulle’s government to Vichy’s Mobile Reserve Group (GMR) units. The renaming aimed to hide the record of the fascist GMR, which fought alongside Nazi SS troops against Resistance units. This led to the famous slogan, used first in the bloody 1947 miners’ strike and then the May 1968 French general strike: “CRS-SS.”

May 1968 French CRS=SS poster

5 thoughts on “French workers keep fighting Macron’s austerity

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