Socialist Worker

France - strikes continue, but must escalate

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2223

Students and workers together on the march in St Malo on Tuesday  (Pic: JM Groisier/

Students and workers together on the march in St Malo on Tuesday (Pic: JM Groisier/

The progress of the fightback in France against the attacks on pensions hangs in the balance.

Some 3.5 million workers, students and school students took part a day of strikes and protests on Tuesday. But the government pushed on with its plans to raise the age at which workers can claim a full pension to 67.

Another day of marches is planned for Saturday (16 October). That will be a crucial day to show overwhelming support for the fightback.

But the central issues are the continuing strikes between the big days of action, and increasing the pressure to make the general strikes unlimited rather than just one day.

Rail workers have maintained a strike from Tuesday to today. The oil refining industry is paralysed with just one out of 12 terminals operating normally.

A strike at the key Mediterranean oil port of Fos Lavera entered its 18th day today.

Fuel supplies are running low in some areas. The government is preparing for mass imports (which could be blocked) and the running down of its emergency strategic stocks.

In Marseille, strikes continue at the port (dockers, crane operators, terminal staff) and in schools, nurseries, libraries, museums, swimming pools, and roads maintenance.

Hospital workers at La Timone in Marseille have voted for a strike of at least one hour per day.

Some EDF power workers remain out. Workers at the coal-fired power plant in Le Havre voted unanimously to stay out on Wednesday.

'The plant has been decoupled from the network at 3:50 p.m.,' said Alain Poret, a local CGT union federation rep.

Walkouts have affected other companies such as Alstom and Bombardier in the North, Rhodia and Arkema Rhone. In Le Havre workers from Renault, Total and Chevron have blocked access to the port area for three hours.

School pupils are blockading or otherwise disrupting schools around the country. A major student union plans a rally outside France's main employers’ association.

The next few days will be crucial. It is clearly possible for the movement to grow and extend and to be victorious. But this won’t happen if it is left to the union leaders.

They say they support the strikes happening now, but they’re not building and leading them.

If the strikes grow and involve more workers then president Sarkozy can be beaten. Such an achievement will echo around a continent where every government seeks to impose austerity and to defend the rich.

Students in the streets of Paris  (Pic: Filtre Rouge/

Students in the streets of Paris (Pic: Filtre Rouge/

Dockers take to the streets in Bordeaux  (Pic: J Saintier/

Dockers take to the streets in Bordeaux (Pic: J Saintier/

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