Socialist Worker

Resistance as French strikers take to the streets

Workers need to heap pressure on the Macron government and build the fightback, says?Charlie Kimber

Issue No. 2608

Striking rail workers and their supporters

Striking rail workers and their supporters (Pic: Force Ouvriere/Flickr)

Hundreds of striking rail workers joined an angry demonstration in Paris on Monday as the parliament debated a law attacking their jobs and boosting privatisation.

And to emphasise that whatever MPs decide this week the battle is not finished, a “day of anger” on Tuesday saw large parts of the rail network closed.

This week’s strikes will mean that there have been nearly 30 rail strike days since the struggle against President Emmanuel Macron’s ­neoliberal attacks began in April.

Matthieu, a train driver from Paris, told Socialist Worker on Tuesday, “This fight isn’t over. There’s a very big strike today across all the unions and many train cancellations.

“Of course the fact that it looks like the government’s attacks will go through parliament is a new stage. But votes can be overturned if there is enough fightback.

“It’s really important that the union leaders don’t give up.

“In my depot there are people who have only occasionally been on strike who are now coming out for all the actions.

“We can go on to July and August and beyond, but the really crucial issue is to get others out alongside us, to push for a general strike.

“It’s possible—and we have to stop Macron.”

A series of rail strikes are scheduled up to 28 June.

But there is no certainty about what will come next. One union federation, the CFDT, seems poised to give up.


Laurent Berger, the head of the CFDT, told the union’s congress last week, “We must show much more clearly that French unions have changed and that there is a ­reformist stream.”

And both the CFDT and the Unsa unions have suggested calling off strike days this month that coincide with school exams.

Ending the struggle without ­victory would be a disaster.

Macron intends to move on from the rail workers to a more general assault on benefits and pensions.

A day of angry demonstrations was planned by pensioners across France for Thursday of this week.

There is still plenty of resistance taking place. Sections of postal workers and air traffic controllers are striking.

Air France unions have promised a “stormy summer” and called strikes for the end of June after rejecting a pay offer.

On Friday this week there was set to be a large protest outside the court where demonstrators arrested on the 22 May day of action were to face harsh charges.

A major day of protests is planned for 20 June over the rights of refugees and in response to the brutal treatment and new laws against asylum seekers that Macron has masterminded.

But the various struggles have not yet been brought together.

The energy and spirit of resistance that has been seen in France this year must not be allowed to seep away.

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