Last Thursday, the 26th, France lived its 8th consecutive day of protests since the reform of the labour code, know as “El Khomri Act”, was presented by Hollande’s government (SFP). About 300.000 people demonstrated around the country according the CGT, the main French union, with about 600.000 members.
By Gabriel Huland.
Three labour unions, among them the CGT and Solidaires, plus three students’ organizations, gathered in the Inter-Union, called for a day of struggles, and they have already called for a general strike on June 14th, in case the government does not annul the Act project that will be approved with no parliamentary debate, through the appeal of the Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows to impose a law by decree. This is the French democracy so celebrated by the European politicians.
The strike had an important follow up. According the Spanish journal El País [The country]: “Truck-drivers, train-drivers, controllers and workers of the energy industry are once again the most active ones among the protests. More than one third of the total trains did not get to destination, and neither did 15% of the flights. On Wednesday, also, they voted in favour of the strike and shutdowns of the 19 nuclear power plants that guarantee 75% of the electric production of the country”.
Eight nuclear reactors’ activities were affected, and two of them were totally shutdown. Between 20% and 30% of the gas stations lacked fuel. Hundreds of picket lines took place all over the country, and the demonstrators closed dozens of streets. Metal workers from companies like Arcelor Metal and Iveco participated on the strike, the same as workers of the multinational chemical company Michelin. The leaders of the movement promise to “burn the country” during the Euro Championship, starting on June the 10th.
The government is going through a political crisis with quite an internal division, as many ‘socialist’ candidates would vote for the NO [to the implementation of the Act]. At the same time, almost 70% of the population is against the reform and supports the protests of last months. The French government popularity is on the ground, but this has not been enough for Hollande, Valls and El Khomri to soften their speeches. They promised to continue with the plan and approve the Act before the summer. The submission of the French “socialists” to the interests of the great French and European bourgeoisie is total.
The reform implies a hard strike on Gauls workers’ life conditions. The 2nd article [of the Act] is the most criticized point, as it changes the labour regulation, giving priority to negotiations between companies regarding collective agreements. The labour reform follows the model of the ones approved by the PSOE and the PP in the Spanish State. It also allows dismissals for economic reasons, and the end of the 35 weekly hours shift.
The El Khomri Act is an imposition fro Brussels
The political situation in France is currently the most conflictive one in the Old continent, specifically since March, with the entrance of the working movement on scene; together with the students’ movement, they are taking ahead a dramatic struggle against the social-liberal government of the Socialist Party. France lives under state of emergency since the recent terrorist attacks, under a wave of Islamophobia and with electoral growth of the ultra-right. Only the organized working class can change the course of events and defeat Valls and Hollande’s reform.
The conservative opposition of SP, led by the Republican Party and the former president Nicolás Sarkozy, defended the repression against the demonstrators (which left more than 70 detained people for different kind of charges), and it went even beyond, by affirming the workers of the productive sector to paralyze their activities should be penalized with cut off salaries, and must go to trial.
Flexibilization of the labour market and reduction of public deficit are EU demands to France, hypocritically presented as conditions for economic growth. The EU policy is to implement austerity policies in the main countries of Europe, and a second round of attacks among the periphery, to keep the profit rates of the Franco-German financial capital.
Approving the TTIP together with the U.S. is part of the European imperialism policies now, and it means a major step back regarding labour rights and the earnings of the working class, as much as the loss of sovereignty for National States. So no borders for the capital, but yes for humans, as we can see with the refugees’ crisis in Greece and Macedonia. The capital can freely cross the Atlantic while the refugees drown in the Mediterranean grave.
French workers’ and students show the way. The struggle against the Labour Code reform is not decided yet, and it will influence the class struggle around the continent. Their struggle is our struggle.
Translation: Sofía Ballack.