Socialist Worker

France


Inside the system

13 April 2002
Desmond's lies invade Express The Express under millionaire boss Richard Desmond has been at the forefront of whipping up anti-refugee feeling. It recently ran an article with the headline "Migrant Wave Swamps Tunnel". A picture appeared to show two refugees crawling through the fence near the Channel Tunnel terminal in France.

One in ten will vote for a revolutionary in the French presidential election

06 April 2002
One in ten people in one of the world's key industrial countries say they will vote in two weeks time for a socialist who calls for "revolution" to sweep away a "bankrupt capitalist system". That poll finding is sending shockwaves through the French political establishment as the country gears up for the 21 April presidential election. Paul McGarr reports from France.

Trade unionists join struggle

23 March 2002
Over 100,000 trade unionists marched in Barcelona against the European Union (EU) summit two days before the anti-capitalist demo. The march was organised by the European Federation of Trade Unions. Hundreds of coaches, plus a train and a plane, came from other areas of Spain. And some 20,000 trade unionists came from France and Italy, with smaller delegations from other countries.

Charlotte Gray: just too many shades of grey

23 February 2002
Set in occupied France during the Second World War, Charlotte Gray tells the story of a young Scottish woman who is recruited to the Special Operations Executive. Charlotte, played by Cate Blanchett, wants to defeat fascism and search for her missing lover. She is sent to work with the French Resistance.

US threatens new targets

12 January 2002
PEOPLE IN the poor African country of Somalia feared this week that they were to become the latest targets in the US "war on terror". The US, and key allies Britain and France, have increased surveillance flights to four or five a day over Somalia in the last week.

Refugees' desperate defiance

11 August 2001
"WE ARE not animals. We are not criminals. We are human beings," cried hundreds of desperate and defiant refugees last week. They were fighting back against the treatment they suffer because of the policies of Tony Blair and other European Union leaders. Over 900 refugees are at a Red Cross centre in a giant hangar outside Sangatte, near the French Channel port of Calais.

Montpellier: 15,000 march against globalisation

24 February 2001
A Two-day carnival-like event took place in Montpellier, southern France, last week. It was a 15,000-strong protest against globalisation that saw people pack into meetings on everything from how to fight the multinationals to the threat to privatise public services under the planned GATS trade agreement. There was also an inspiring march, with students, peasants and trade unionists chanting what has become the slogan of the movement: "The world is not for sale!"

BSE: They say it's all over-it isn't

10 February 2001
BSE-"mad cow disease"- has suddenly become a key issue right across Europe. In France, Italy, Greece, Spain and, above all, Germany, beef consumption has slumped by up to 40 percent in the wake of a sudden rise in BSE cases.

France: Temperature is rising fast

27 January 2001
Workers and bosses in France were set for a major trial of strength on Thursday. All the country's major union federations have called for strikes and demonstrations against a "frontal assault" on workers' pension rights. It comes as the social and political temperature in France is rising. Strikes and demonstrations have been multiplying in recent weeks. Now the Les Echos business paper worries that bosses are playing "a dangerous game". Thursday's action centres around a provocative move by the Medef employers' organisation.

French spirit

20 January 2001
Workers in the French port of Calais have shown exactly how to take on a multinational. Hundreds of workers at the Lu biscuit factory walked out on strike last week after the giant food multinational Danone announced it wanted to shut the plant. The workers were still out on strike this week, and a strike across Danone in France was planned for Thursday. Danone is a multinational company that produces drinks, yoghurt and other dairy products, and biscuits.

Opel's ad strikes

20 January 2001
The internet is a curious and contradictory thing. A sign of the times in France is a useful website called lesgreves.com (strikes.com), which gives a detailed and long list of strikes taking place each day around the country. The main sponsor on last week's home page was Opel. Opel is the German subsidiary of the giant General Motors car firm. Hopefully the firm will feature in a different way in a round-up of strike reports later this month when workers across Europe join a day of action against GM.

Breaking chains

06 January 2001
YOUNG WORKERS at McDonald's in France have shown how to take on the fast food multinational and win. McDonald's workers struck and occupied the Boulevard St German outlet in the centre of Paris just before Christmas. Their 15-day occupation won huge support.

ATTAC

05 February 2000
Some 50 people attended a meeting in London last Saturday to launch the Association for the Tobin Tax for Aid to Citizens (ATTAC) in Britain. The tax, named after economist James Tobin, would be a levy on financial speculation. Katherin Matheison of War On Want addressed Saturday's meeting, as did a member of ATTAC from France. Across the Channel ATTAC has grown to some 70,000 members with 130 local groups in little over a year after it was launched by the left wing monthly paper Le Monde diplomatique. Most of those at Saturday's meeting were inspired by the Seattle protest against the World Trade Organisation. A series of further meetings is planned, including a joint conference with W

Picket lines and protests in France

05 February 2000
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.

The system cracks

18 December 1999
A WORLD divided by the Cold War also saw outbursts of struggle East and West. In Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 workers rose up against the Stalinist regimes, and battled against Russian tanks. In France in 1968 and Portugal in 1974 there were powerful mass movements that challenged the existing order. The long post-war boom had raised people's expectations of a better life. Many were prepared to fight to realise those aspirations.

French workers fight back

18 December 1999
MANY BELIEVED that after Germany, France would also go down the road of fascism. This was a particular fear after the far right tried to launch a coup in 1934. A general strike was called. Workers united in a spontaneous show of unity against the fascist threat. In June 1936 France was rocked by a massive wave of strikes and occupations after the election of a left of centre Popular Front government.

Most dangerous beef in Europe

18 December 1999
THE TABLOID press has launched a frenzy of French bashing after the French government refused to lift its ban on British beef. Tory politicians and papers such as the Daily Mail have led the pack. Now others are joining in. The Mirror has launched a "Say Non To French Golden Delicious" campaign. The Scottish Daily Record ran a page article on how France has always "betrayed" Scotland.

Strike wave a sign of hot winter

11 December 1999
STRIKES AND protests are erupting across France in the run up to Christmas. The implementation of the new 35 hour week law lies behind many of the disputes. Workers are demanding that bosses pay for the hours cut.

In every continent... Rage against the system

04 December 1999
RIGHT ACROSS the world people protested against capitalism this week. Their target was the World Trade Organisation. Tens of thousands marching in Seattle were attacked by police. Across France tens of thousands joined marches like the one shown here in Paris. In London and other cities across Britain people staged protests. Similar protests took place from Brazil to Bangladesh, from Argentina to Australia.

Something's in the air

27 November 1999
A RASH of strikes swept France last week, hitting national TV and radio stations as well as public transport in the country's three biggest cities. Car workers and postal workers also took action. The strikes come against the background of a continuing political radicalisation in France.

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