Socialist Worker

Picket lines and protests in France

Issue No. 1682

FRANCE SHOWS another face of Europe, how workers can take on bosses and governments, marginalising the far right and the Nazis. Over 10,000 health workers united to march in Paris on Friday of last week. Thousands joined similar protests in other cities around the country. They were demanding increased funding and more staff. More protests were planned this week. Four years ago the Tory government attacked France's welfare provision, including health. This was beaten back, and strikes and protests ensured a left wing coalition government was swept to power.

But in office it has been bowing to pressure from the bosses. Other workers were set to protest this week over the new 35 hour working week law which the Socialist Party government has been trying to water down. Rail, bus, and metro workers were set to strike this week over the 35 hour law. Postal workers have also been striking in recent weeks over the same issue. Lorry drivers were already blockading roads and key petrol depots around the country at the start of this week. The government made concessions to lorry bosses over the 35 hour law a few weeks ago after they mounted blockades.

Now workers are flexing their muscles, and also demanding decent pay rises and shorter hours. Protests against Jean - Marie Le Pen's Nazi National Front, and successful workers' struggles, have helped marginalise the Nazis. The Nazis split into two rival parties last year. They are not finished but are finding it difficult to regain the momentum they had a few years ago. For the moment it is workers and the left who are on the offensive.

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Sat 5 Feb 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1682
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