Teachers across France were set for a national day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday this week.
They are fighting authoritarian attacks on education pushed through by government minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. Some of them are modelled on British “reforms”.
Blanquer wants to step up central control over teaching, teacher training and practice in the classroom. Compulsory education from the age of three would be a boon for private kindergarten providers.
Schools would also have to display French and EU flags.
Thousands of teachers and parents took to the streets in Paris last Saturday. Mari, a Paris teacher, told Socialist Worker, “Our slogan was, ‘Jean-Michel Blanquer, authoritarian minister, reactionary minister, we do not want to work for you’.
“It’s clear that the government of president Emmanuel Macron wants to attack all workers, and to take back the gains we have made over decades on education and other services.
“I hope that the strike will be big. Already there are dozens of Paris schools on indefinite strike and the general assembly of strikers in all primary and secondary school in Ile-de-France—the region around Paris—called for a strike from this Monday.”
Yellow Vests were also on the streets, on the twentieth successive Saturday of demonstrations.
The state intensified its crackdown by banning demonstrations in parts of 27 cities and towns. In Paris a new motorised unit was deployed with baton-wielding police on motorbikes.
But protests went ahead, with big turnouts in many places including Toulouse, Saint Etienne, Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg, Montpellier and Marseilles.
Official figures say that the numbers of Yellow Vest were lower than last week’s big demonstrations, but more people marched than the two weeks before that. The Yellow Vests themselves say 127,000 took part.
Demonstrations also took place on Tuesday last week against police violence—particularly, the attack on 73-year-old Genevieve Legay in Nice during the previous week of Yellow Vest protests.
Legay, an activist in the anti-capitalist group Attac France, was severely injured with a fractured skull and five broken ribs.
Macron responded, “I wish her a quick recovery and I also wish her more wisdom. A fragile person shouldn’t put themselves in such a situation.”
He also said the police were not responsible for her fall. But a police report concluded that “a man with a shield”—almost certainly a police officer—pushed her down.
During the four months of Yellow Vests protests over 8,700 people have been arrested and 2,000 have been sentenced, 800 of them to prison terms. Nearly 1,800 more are waiting for their judgment.
Yet the revolt goes on. It will be all the stronger if there are more strikes that can lead to the unity of organised workers and Yellow Vests.