French movement situation (fwd)

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Mon Dec 11 08:11:52 MST 1995


Another forwarded post of interest. -- Jerry

- ----------------------------Original message----------------------------

- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 1995 13:19:22 +0100
From: x <Yves.Quemener at irisa.fr>
To: Chris Faatz <cfaatz at teleport.com>
Cc: quemener at irisa.fr
Subject: French movement situation

The situation in France is now undoubtedly the biggest social crisis since May
 68. Yesterday was a new action day, and the struggle were bigger than ever.
 There was 2 million strikers (at the peak of the strike in May68, there were
 ten million strikers). The education workers are beginning a reconducible
 strike, and it has been very massive yesterday. The railway and french
 undergrounds are continuing, and they enter their third week of strike, with an
 intact determination. The post and telephone enter the 2nd week, and new
 sectors are coming in, like banks. The strike is also very important in
 electricity (strikers put the price of electricity at night hours) and gaz. The
 private sector seems to begin to move, but remains shy. Nevertheless, the
 strike remains popular (60% approve the strike, according to a poll). It seems
 to be a strike by procuration: the private sector approves the strike, for
 fighting austerity politics since 15 years, but the fear of unemployment
 preven!
 ts private workers (for the moment) to come into. Some private plants have
 nevertheless begun, like TAT-express in Rennes (a private post).
The demonstrations were impressive: 1 million people at leats, in all France, in
 more than 300 towns (French population: 55-60 millions). The demonstrations
 were in a lot of places bigger than in May68. 100 thousand in Marseille (the
 unemployed were leading the demonstration), 70 thousand in Lyon, only 50
 thousand in Paris, but with massive demonstrations in all the suburbs. 35
 thousand in Rouen, comparable only to June36. The most popular slogan in the
 demonstrations was to ask "Juppe resigns". The fighting spirit is very high,
 and the retreat of the plan seems to be a minimum.
Even if the private sector does not enter, the paralisy of transports and post
 begin to make effect, and the necessity of going out is quite clear for the
 bourgeoisie. If schools close,and they have begun, people won't go to work for
 keeping care of children.

A weak point is the auto-organization of the strike. There does not seem to be
 important strike committees (except in Lorient (20000 demonstrators for a
 population of 60000, and with a 10000 demonstration in the neighbour town
 Vannes). The reason is that for the moment hte trade-union directions
 (specially CGT) are quite combative, except the direction of CFDT (which
 approves the plan, Nicole Notat has even proposed to negotiate a minimum
 service transport). If they try to begin negotiations, without retiring the
 plan, they're will be a clash with the basis rank and file strikers.
Another weak point is the fact that students seem to stop their movement, and
 the junction has not been very deep.

For the moment, the government seems to play very badly. They begin to retreat
 on the problem of public workers retirements, but it seems to be too late for
 stopping the movement. They seem to have chosen the clash, for breaking
 trade-unions in their last important sector, the public services (something
 like Thatcher attack in 1984). The bourgeoisie must also make reductions in
 public expenses because of their strategic choice of economic union with
 germany, and the policy of a franc united with the mark. Until a few days, it
 seemed that the bourgeoisie was unanimous, but Wednesday, Charles Pasqua, a
 populist, ex-member of govenment Balladur, euro-sceptic, has asked for another
 politic. He places itself as a recourse for implementing another politic of the
 bourgeoisie, breaking the links between german and french currency. It is a
 sign of division of the bourgeoisie, and of the fear of the right, behind the
 social movement.

What can happen? It seems that the movement can win a retirement of the Juppe
 plan, and a resignation of Juppe Prime Minister, and maybe more, on the
 retirement policy in private sectors, or the wages. It would be the first
 victory against austerity politics in 20 years, and, as such, an incredible
 encouragement for other struggles (like in Italy or Belgium). The paralisy of
 the economy begins to be so important (in Paris mainly) that the government
 must do something. The movement seems to install itself in the long term, with
 national subscriptions. A danger is a backstab of trade-unions bureaucracy, but
 they are for the moment afraid of rank and file members.

I repeat myself, hence I stop. I post also a discussion of Walter's posting.

I'll add that all of the above is my opinion and not an official opinion of any
 organization I belong to.

Bye,
        Yves-Marie



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