By: Rafael Poch / Source: Rebelion.org / The Dawn News / March 9, 2016. March could be a crucial month for France, the country that invented general strikes in the XIX century. Wednesday 9 was a day of protests in 169 cities, called by unions and students (it’s important to analyse youth as political actors: in this country they have been many times before the spark that caused explosions) and accompanied by a strike of railway workers. And later this month, a general strike will be held, a resource that hadn’t been used since 2010, under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, supported by almost all unions.
The main reason for the protest is the labor reform contained in a bill that “not even the right could have imagined when it was in power”, says an editorial in the newspaper Le Figaro. Will this project trigger a chain of reactions that releases the unrest that France accumulated for long? The project could lead to working more hours and getting paid less, with greater ease of being laid off, less rights, less union power and more power to businesses, i.e. a social involution in every way, or what nowadays is called a reform.
This is crucial, because we could be at the gates of a new 15-M this March. In surveys, 70% declared to be against the proposed reform. In little more than a week, an initiative launched on social networks has raised more than a million signatures against it. Incredible. But what is yet to be seen in this month, is precisely whether this online anger will becomes a political mobilization with inclination to the left in a society in which 30% of the voters have chosen the National Front.
What can already be affirmed is that President Francois Hollande(whose willingness to run for a new presidential mandate within fourteen months is being questioned) and Prime Minister Manuel Valls have done their best to provoke this protest. Both of them seem convinced that the French left does not exist (and maybe they’re right, this March we’ll see) and that they must govern catering only to the right. What they have done is destroy their social base and their own Socialist Party.
The resignation of Socialist deputy Pouria Amirshahi was very significant because she left everything, her card and her seat, denouncing the “caste” and the “idealess world” of the parties.
“The removal of nationality, the state of emergency, the criminal escalation, the labor law… France is not governed by the right wing of the Socialist Party, but by neoconservatives”, she said. This was not a break with the Socialist Party, but with the establishment. Even deputies who support Hollande are angry with the bill of the Minister of Labour, Myriam The Khomri, and even one of her secretary has resigned.
Valls, true initiator of the project, feels abandoned by Hollande, who has asked him to slow down and have more dialogue with the unions. If the law turns out being devoid of content, Valls himself could leave, says an assistant of the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the President has just imposed the Legion of Honor on the Saudi Crown Prince Nayef Bin Mohammed (who performed 70 beheadings so far this year). “It was only protocol” says Foreign Minister. The discredit is total.