French show spirit in jobs fight
AROUND 30,000 people marched through the French Channel port of Calais last Saturday on a magnificent demonstration to save jobs. Over 200 workers in the town's LU biscuit factory are on all-out strike and have occupied the plant to stop multinational owner Danone from shutting it. Dockers, nurses, shop workers, teachers, factory workers and many more from across the town turned out to join Saturday's inspiring demonstration. Raised fists, red flags, and the sound of firecrackers and strains of the socialist Internationale anthem filled the streets of Calais.
Marks & Spencer workers in France, who face thousands of job cuts, also joined the protest, as did large delegations of other workers. The jobs protests have rattled France's coalition government, led by the Socialist Party, equivalent to Britain's Labour Party.
So too has the spreading rash of strikes in transport. Hard on the heels of rail strikes across the country, Monday saw strikes halt buses, trams and local trains in some 50 cities across France as workers demanded the right to retire at 55 on full pensions. A delegation of British trade unionists and socialists joined last week's demonstration.
"It's heartening to see a whole city and a whole region rally round on such a scale when jobs are under threat. We need to see that spirit in Britain," said Liam, a London teacher. Just brilliant, fantastic. It shows that when you fight you get support," said London library worker Lorna. "Union leaders in Britain should call this kind of protest against job losses."