It is too early to make safe predictions on what will happen in France, the country which, since more than two centuries, is the “political laboratory” of Europe, often shaping political tendencies in the continent.
But it is not too early to speak of the end of a whole era. Some people say they even discern the probability of a new “May 1968”, of a kind of a “French Spring”. They are probably exaggerating a little bit. Of course, nobody can say for sure what will happen in a country which has experienced six major (completely unexpected, when they erupted) revolutionary movements in its modern history!
It is not also early to speak of a phenomenon of mass social mobilisation. But what extent will take and where it will lead, nobody knows.
For our readers we made an anthology of informative (we believe) articles about social movements in France. We would like, once more, to repeat that what we are publishing is not always reflecting our views. We hope they will help our readers to get useful infromation and ideas.
French Students Protest at Labor Law Changes Despite Not Being Employed
Fresh demonstrations take place today in Paris, Marseille, Lille, Nantes, Rennes, Strasbourg and many other towns and cities as students on their Easter break take to the streets in protest at proposed changes to labor reforms which are being debated in the French parliament Tuesday.
Over a million people took part in protests last week over the labor reforms that many claim will allow employers to sack people more easily. French President Francois Hollande is under fire for pressing for reforms to the highly codified French labor laws — known as the Code du Travail — in order to give employers more flexibility…
French students have a long history of political protests — going back as far as the Paris riots of 1968, when students held sit-ins in universities and clashed violently with police for several weeks over capitalism, consumerism and traditional institutions, values and order…
This time round the students are once again using their political muscle to demonstrate against the introduction of labor reforms that cold see them more easily fired on a last-in-first-out basis in a downturn. Once again, they hope to weaken — if not topple — the government of the day.
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“Nuit debout” (Night on Our Feet) movement grows in France to push back against labor reforms
“Night on our feet, Prime Minister Valls on his knees” demonstrators chant, referring to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls during a protest in an iconic central square in Paris.
Rallies spread across France Tuesday, as lawmakers began considering a contentious labor bill.
The “Nuit debout” – or Night on our feet – movement started last week following a nationwide protest opposing François Hollande’s planned labor reform law, which they say will make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers. After the demonstration, thousands of people occupied the symbolic Place de la République.
The occupation hasn’t stopped since and has become about much more than just the controversial labor law. Every evening, anywhere from 500 to 2000 people think, discuss and debate how best to express their dissatisfaction with what they call misguided French republican ideals and how to most effectively weigh in on the political process.
“Unexpectedly, something new is starting now,” says French economist, Frédéric Lordon. “The ruling class wants to keep our issues separate, our agenda divided. We say today that we are united around a global and universal agenda!”
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Hundreds arrested as French police assault student protests against labour reform
After more than a million workers and youth marched Thursday in defiance of the state of emergency to protest Socialist Party (PS) labour minister Myriam El Khomri’s law, security forces yesterday violently attacked continuing demonstrations against the reactionary labour law reform.
Explosive anger is developing among broad sections of workers and youth to the El Khomri Law. It would increase the working day by up to two hours, undermine job security for young workers, and allow the trade unions and businesses to negotiate deals violating France’s Labour Code. This nakedly pro-business bill has provoked anger and revulsion among broad layers of workers hostile to unpopular PS president François Hollande.
Police responded with a violent and bloody crackdown against a number of protests across France yesterday. In many cities, the trade unions made little or no effort to mobilise workers in support of the university or high school student protests. Police attacked them violently, trying to intimidate youth in the run-up to the next major protest by workers and students, called for April 9.
In Lyon, a few union officials attended the student protest. Police blocked the protest—prompting shouts of “State of emergency, police state!”—and only authorised the march to begin “given that the situation is under the control of the trade union organisations.” Several students were arrested or hit with batons as clashes erupted between police and demonstrators towards the end of the march, with one student taken away in handcuffs and another heavily beaten with batons.
…Asked what she thought the impact of the law would be, she said, “I think we will be under ever-stricter rules, because conditions for those of us not working on permanent contracts will be shit. It will separate us more from those with permanent contracts. … We will be each on our own sides, and that is ridiculous because we should be all together.”
Ada opposed lengthening the working day under the terms of the law, saying that there was already not enough work to go around due to the economic crisis: “I have an internship at a factory and there isn’t enough work to do. Workers are forced to come in seven hours per day, otherwise they are not paid. So they don’t have enough work to do, and they sit around getting pissed off and doing nothing for seven hours, but at least they have a job. So if they lengthen working hours, we will be wasting our time even more because there isn’t enough work to go around.”
Asked about the state of emergency, Ada said, “It’s ridiculous…for example, if someone is unarmed and [police] think that they might do something harmful, they can hit this person for no reason, and I find that ridiculous. Also, they can enter into people’s houses without a warrant, but everyone has a right to a private life.”…
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The new Labour Law revives divisions in the left