Socialist Worker

French president Macron fails to hold back Yellow Vest revolt

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2634

The Yellow Vests movement has rocked President Emmanuel Macron

The Yellow Vests movement has rocked President Emmanuel Macron (Pic: Flickr/Coline Buch)


French president Emmanuel Macron has made more concessions to the “Yellow Vest” protesters, but it has not stopped the revolt.

More protests are planned for this Saturday—and more workers are starting to fight.

Macron’s prime minister Edouard Philippe previously announced the government would suspend fuel tax rises for six months. He then said on Wednesday that they would be dropped entirely from the budget bill.

Macron hoped his concessions would end the protests. They show his weakness and have encouraged others to fight.

Jacline Mouraud, who is sometimes seen as the Yellow Vest movement’s spokesperson, said Macron's concession “comes much too late, unfortunately”. “It's on the right path, but in my opinion it will not fundamentally change the movement,” she said.

Other forces are putting forward their own demands.

Energy industry workers in the CGT union federation are set to walk out for a 48 hours from next Thursday.

The union said explicitly that they wanted to join forces with Yellow Vests and its members were “joining the protests which the country is currently experiencing.” The strike will hit EDF, gas and power supplier Engie and all other companies in the sector.

The union federations initially ignored or attacked the Yellow Vests. They have now issued a statement calling for their grievances to be heard and recognising their actions have “allowed the expression of legitimate anger”.

The SUD-Rail union has called for its members to join the demonstrations this Saturday. It also says the Yellow Vests should “borrow freely the national rail network which is the property of the people” and travel for free to their demonstrations.

A national truckers’ strike is due to start this Sunday evening. It is demanding better wages.

High school students have called for a national “Black Tuesday” next week against the government involving walkouts, blockades and occupations. There are already school students’ actions in several areas of the country.

Batons

They have in some places been met by police batons and tear gas. The revolutionary socialist NPA party says, “The NPA gives all its support to the victims, their families and their relatives, and calls to continue and grow the mobilisation.

“Anger against power is legitimate, and demonstrating is a right. The escalation of police violence must stop.”

The Yellow Vests are themselves putting forward new demands.

Right wing forces are trying to grow within the movement.  But as the struggle grows, and if the movement makes links with strikes, it can beat back the racists.

One section of Yellow Vests recently issued a set of demands. They included higher taxes for corporations and lower taxes for smaller business, retirement at 60 and a minimum wage of £1,000 a month.  

They also demanded that “asylum seekers must be treated well.”

Across Europe the far right has been growing. The Yellow Vests show how the anger in society can also be directed towards left wing ideas.

It is crucial that the movement is not reined in by union leaders and politicians who want to use it for their own ends. Small concessions are not enough. Macron must go and the attacks on the working class have to be reversed


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