Socialist Worker

‘This revolt has become much more than a battle about the laws on youth employment’

by Pierre Khalfa, national secretary, Solidaires trade union
Issue No. 1993

Workers marched last Saturday (Pic: Manus McGrogan)

Workers marched last Saturday (Pic: Manus McGrogan)

The French government has decided not to negotiate, so we have called a general strike. The call has come from the trade unions, the youth trade unions and the national coordination committees of students.

The public is with us, not with the government. Two thirds of the French population now demands that the new CPE law is scrapped.

This strike is not only for people working in the public sector, but also those in the private sector. The trade unions will do their best to explain what is at stake with this strike.

The CPE will affect all workers, not just the youth. Behind this new job contract lies the introduction of precarious and insecure employment – or to be precise it generalises these conditions.

Contrary to what many people think, job insecurity is not presently the norm in France. Around 90 percent of work contracts are long term.

Despite the fact that insecurity affects many young people and women, it doesn’t affect the majority of workers.

The CPE would effectively create a new breakthrough for those who want to spread insecurity throughout the working class, leading to extreme consequences for workers’ conditions.

In France today we can see a youth movement in full development. It includes youth trade unions, but there is an important element of self organisation.

This is expressed in the students and lycées coordination committees.

The strength of this movement is the fact that it is much bigger than the organisations already in place. And now we see a regroupment of trade unions and student organisations working to stop the CPE.

If we manage to force the government to scrap the CPE it will be a very important victory.

The government has made the CPE a central priority. Forcing it to withdraw this policy will be a victory over a major neo-liberal measure – something that we haven’t managed recently.

What we are seeing is more than a struggle over the youth contract.

It is a confrontation between the government’s neo-liberal vision of society and the whole of the social movement, together with the majority of French society which rejects neo-liberal politics.

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