Socialist Worker

French movement must act quickly to defy state's repression

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2510

Unions march against the Work Law in Paris last Thursday

Unions march against the Work Law in Paris last Thursday (Pic: Force Ouvrière)

French unions called their eleventh day of action against the Work Law as it finished its passage through parliament’s upper house on Tuesday.

Labour-type president Francois Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls are determined to continue “until the end”.

They’ve gone on the offensive against workers’ right to demonstrate. On the last day of action last week, the march in Paris was banned until the last minute.

Unions were offered a static rally in the Bastille square, but faced with the prospect of mass defiance the government authorised a very short march.

Cops surrounded the circular march and made dozens of arrests.

Yet even under these conditions 60,000 people turned out, with a total of 200,000 across France.


The “citizens’ referendum” on the Work Law, organised by unions, further shows the continuing support for the movement.

New opinion polls register 67 percent against the Work Law and 60 percent say that the movement is “justified”.

Unions have warned that they would continue to mobilise as parliament prepares for its final debates on the Work Law through July.

But time is not on their side—the government is slowly wearing down the movement.

A programme of one-day actions spaced out over a long period risks demoralising workers—especially if their marches will be inside a gauntlet of police.

And the government is trying to bring forward the vote in parliament to shorten the window of opportunity.

To defeat the government will take more than union leaders are presently offering.

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