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Students in revolt defy French cops to fight proposed employment law

This article is over 8 years, 2 months old
A protest movement in France against an employment law is gathering support, reports?Dave Sewell
Issue 2496
Students on the streets of Paris last week in even greater numbers than before
Students on the streets of Paris last week in even greater numbers than before (Pic: Force Ouvriere / Flickr)

Students across France were set to strike and protest for the third time on Thursday in a revolt that continues to grow.

Some 150,000 students took to the streets last Thursday according to the biggest student union Unef—up from 100,000 the week before.

Many striking workers joined them. Universities and colleges were barricaded. More youths from the working class suburbs joined the demonstration in Paris.

The movement against a proposed new employment law is the biggest challenge the Labour-type government of Francois Hollande has faced.

And the state is pouring fuel on the fire. Police violence against the students has caused outrage. They raided the Sorbonne’s Tolbiac campus to stop students holding a general assembly in a building university bosses wanted shut.

Cops used batons and teargas. They smashed furniture—and they hospitalised one young woman with a severe head wound.

At the same time attacks on wages are driving more workers to make common cause with the students.

Trade unionists came out to back the students

Trade unionists came out to back the students (Pic: Force Ouvriere / Flickr)


The CGT union has called a standing two-week strike notice in the public sector, allowing members to walk out alongside the students or over their own wages. Other unions are backing a day of action during the students’ next strike on Thursday of next week.

Economy minister Emmanuel Macron was cornered by an angry protest of 300 CGT union members when he visited a nuclear power plant last Thursday. Macron was there to argue for smashing the agreements of EDF energy workers.

Workers chanted, “Macron resign!” and yelled, “You want the deaths of workers”.

Days later he was on TV saying students are only protesting because they “don’t fully understand the world of today”.

But students understand all too well the need to resist.

The last coordinated college student strikes in 2013 opposed the deportation of 15 year old student Leonarda Dibrani. Now working as a waitress in Kosovo, she said, “I still hate Hollande—he ruined my life.”

Hundreds of delegates from student assemblies all over France came to discuss the next steps in the Paris VIII university in St Denis last Saturday. It is a stronghold of the movement.

Student Jules Rondeau told Socialist Worker on the strike day, “The university has been under occupation. Several departments have been fully shut down with teachers striking.

“We had 800 at the general assembly last Wednesday, and there have also been course assemblies.”

Ministers’ attempts to water down some proposals have helped placate right wing union leaders. But it’s clear to all that the key attacks are upheld.

New Anticapitalist Party spokesperson Olivier Besancenot spoke for many in a TV interview last Thursday. “We’ll keep going to the end,” he said.

“The only place for this law is in the bin.”

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