Two Views on the Recent Strikes in France

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Mouvement Communiste has written up a brief report and analysis of the strikes that have broken out over the last month in response to the attempts by the Sarkozy government

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An attempt to report on the situation in France

by Mouvement Communiste

General overview

We have seen a growing number of demonstrators in many towns and cities of France in demonstrations called by the unions and supported by official left-wing parties. But on the side of working class strikes the figure is not so bright.

First of all, strikes have not hit “private” sector industry (with some exceptions detailed later). Our two Paris area big automotive assembly plants, Renault in Flins and Citroën in Aulnay saw only 100 strikers among a workforce of roughly 4000 (i.e. even not all the union delegates went on strike); as some workers said, “the mood is not there”. Even in demonstrations there were very few banners relating to private companies….

They finish with some conclusions:

…..On the content

We can say that confusion is deeply rooted in the movement. If everybody understands that the government “reform” is an attack on the working class, there was no expression of the view that pensions are wages. On the contrary, the ideology of defending the “French social system” is still very strong, not to mention talking about “solidarity among generations”…..

….On the unions
Contrary to what many leftists thought, unions were not opposed to the “movement” and not ready to “betray” it. Their “offer” was very broad. From the SUD completely unrealistically calling for a “General Strike”, to the CFDT being more “realistic” and waiting for a government response, through the CGT being more realistic according to the weak balance of power in the strikes, and divided by some extremist rank and file-ists, the usual limited scheme of “betrayal” does not apply up to now…..

….To remain optimistic

In many places very tiny groups of people tried to organize themselves on a rank and file basis to do something, for instance blocking the economy. However unrealistic it is, it certainly allows people to create horizontal links that could be useful for the future. We have participated in Paris in an “Inter-category assembly” (however foolish may be the name of such a gathering, regarding reality) organized around engineers of SNCF in Paris Est and other workers. This could be a chance for the future if links are maintained….

Read the rest here


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Another view is taken from the Felis Niger blog

Reflections on the situation in France

It’s not time for a post-mortem just yet, but the protest movement in
France is winding down.

“Only” 2 million people took to the streets on Thursday, as opposed to 3.5
million two weeks ago.

The bosses are still in a state of shock though. They revealed on Wednesday
that for the last two weeks, 50% of French industry had been halted
because of a lack of raw materials and fuel. Today, Thursday, 25% of
factories were still “experiencing major production delays and were
unable to keep shipment deadlines, causing even more losses through
contract-clause related penalties”. As many trade unionists
commented :”when they start talking about losses, that means we are on
the verge of winning”.

And strikes are still ongoing in most French refineries. Despite
Government propaganda that announced that five out of twelve refineries
were now running, it appears that this is yet another lie. Seven
refineries are on strike until Saturday, two refineries are shut down
and in a state of lock out, three refineries voted to resume work (after
management offered them a pay increase and the payment of all their days
of strike) but are unable to process anything as the pipelines from the
oil terminals in the ports of Marseille and Le Havre are still blocked
by striking dockers. So actually, not a single litre of petrol is coming
out of any of the twelve refineries right now.

But the mood is undeniably pessimistic, especially after the betrayal of
the CFDT and certain segments of the CGT. The CFDT has accepted to meet
the bosses to discuss “unemployment and wages”. A clear indication that
the time has come for a sell-out (sigh, another one).

Read the rest here

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