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‘Gestures won’t win,’ says French rail striker

This article is over 4 years, 3 months old
Strikes continue against Emmanuel Macron, but they need to urgently accelerate, says Charlie Kimber
Issue 2601
Students joined an 8,000-strong protest in Lyon last week
Students joined an 8,000-strong protest in Lyon last week (Pic: Phototeque Rouge/DamienVergne)

Around 300,000 people took part in some 190 demonstrations and rallies in France last week as the battle continues against President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal assault.

They brought together rail workers, electricity and gas workers who are fighting privatisation, civil service workers, pensioners, students and school students.

Rail workers are striking two days in every five.

The turnout was smaller than a united day of action on 22 March. This time in most areas only the CGT federation called people out. On 22 March there was a wider call.

The strikes need urgently to accelerate.

Pierre Brun, a rail worker, told Socialist Worker, “We had a good demonstration in Lyon, 8,000 or so. It felt strong and united. Lots of different workers were on the streets with us.

“The number of train drivers on strike doesn’t go down. Some people miss a strike or two, others come out.

“But the issue is how we’re going to win. There will be big demos around May Day. Good, but there has to be something that paralyses the country—a general strike, and for more than one day.

“Macron is very determined. Gestures won’t win.”

Meanwhile the student movement continues to resist Macron’s plan to increase selection and make it harder to go to university—despite police attacks on occupations.

The latest came at Tolbiac in Paris where cops seriously injured a number of people.


The government claims that only three universities now have any form of occupations going on.

But the main student union, Unef, said on Monday that actions continued at Rennes 1, Paris 3, Paris 8, IEP Lille, Toulouse 2, Rennes 2, Nantes, Rouen, Strasbourg, Limoges, Montpellier 3, Aix-Marseille, Nancy, Metz, Avingon, Paris 4, Bordeaux Victoire, IEP Paris and Nanterre.

Sylvine, a student from Paris, told Socialist Worker, “The movement is not intimidated, we’re angry.

“There are thousands of young people involved—against selection, with the strikers, against the new laws that crackdown on asylum.

“There were lots of students on the demos last week. In 1968 when the students were attacked the unions called strikes.

“We want that now—for themselves and for us.”

Representatives from 33 universities met last weekend to discuss the next steps.

Their statement said, “Despite the repression it is not, and never was, time for negotiations and compromise with the government.

“We call on all students to escalate mobilisations and to take to the streets on the rail strikers’ protests. We also call to participate in all the May Day marches and the 5 May education strikes.

“To allow students to continue to struggle, we call for students to be automatically marked as having passed exams, and for occupations if universities don’t agree.”


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