Socialist Worker

France: over a million workers and students march

by Dave Sewell in Paris
Issue No. 2498

Students and young people have been the driving force

Students and young people have been the driving force (Pic: Force Ouvriere at flickr.com)


The revolt against French president Francois Hollande's attack on workers' rights reached new heights today, Thursday. The CGT union says 1.2 million protested across the country in over 250 demonstrations.

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Paris, where college student Aicha told Socialist Worker "It's about our future. They want us to work longer for less pay. If they pass this new law it will be war – and we will win it."

Restaurant worker Georges added , "The worst thing about it is making workers easier to lay off. We're already afraid for the future; being sacked means not having a future. We don't want bosses to be able to sack us at the drop of a hat."

Despite pouring rain huge crowds flowed through Paris, singing songs from revolutions and the French resistance. They chanted, "No, no, no to the bosses' law, yes, yes, yes to the revolution!"

Many cities saw marches tens of thousands strong. Organisers say more than 100,000 marched in Toulouse. University student Pierre Ciavarella said the turnout in Marseille was "enormous".

In the port town of Le Havre dockers and their unions pushed for roadblocks as well as strikes to shut the town. "It was a thundering success," CGT activist Gael Pasquier told Socialist Worker.

College and university students have been the driving force of the movement.

Elite

Students at Henri IV college in central Paris barricaded the road as well as the entrance. When the elite Louis Le Grand college refused to close, students from other colleges went to picket it out. "Petitions on the internet are all well and good, but what counts is coming out on the streets," said Raphael.

The Sorbonne university's Tolbiac campus has been a stronghold of the movement. Around 1,000 people attended a rally there the night before the demonstration. Students there have twinned with the trade union branch at nearby Austerlitz station to build the movement.

Tolbiac student Marine was optimistic. "With this many people out in this rain, the message is clear – we want to get rid of the new employment law, and we want a new government too. We've a government that calls itself socialist, but we want a real socialist government that looks after people not businesses."

The government has already made a number of retreats around the employment law. And on the eve of the day of action Hollande announced that he would drop reactionary constitutional changes he had been pushing since December.

Many demonstrators called for escalating to a general strike to drive home the advantage.

Tyre manufacturing worker Bruno told Socialist Worker, "If this reform is made law it will mean the death of workers. We can't let that happen. So we'll fight to the end. That means more strikes, more confrontation. We'll bring down the government, or even the president, if we have to."


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