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Massive strike in France
"Paris 2012 is seven years away, our wages matter today"
IN FRANCE, in one of the biggest trade union mobilisations, one million people took to the streets on 10 March demanding better wages and battling against a longer working week.
Karl Debbaut, Rouen, France
It was the third national day of strikes and demonstrations in France this year. The day started with massive demonstrations in the south of France, in Toulouse and in Marseille, where 100,000 people marched in the biggest demonstration of the day. There were also demonstrations in Paris, Lille and Strasbourg.
Everywhere the same picture appeared. Workers in private enterprise joined their colleagues of the public sector around three main demands: against the abolition of the 35-hour working week, in defence of the public services, and against the erosion of wages.
The strikes and actions would not have been reported in Britain at all if they did not coincide with the visit of the International Olympic Committee to inspect Paris as one of the candidate cities for the 2012 Olympics.
Part of the French media accused the trade unions of jeopardising the Parisian bid. Activists of Force Ouvriere, one of the trade unions, carried placards saying: "Paris 2012 is seven years away, our wages matter today."
Big contingents of school students joined the protest or stood along the side of the road to support the demonstrations. On 8 March more than 160,000 struck against the government's 'reform' of education.
Scientific researchers, of whom 5,000 marched the day before in Paris, joined together with workers in industry, postal workers and teachers. Veterans of many demonstrations and class struggles joined with young workers and school students on their first demonstration.
Building the struggle
GAUCHE REVOLUTIONNAIRE (CWI, France - the Socialist Party's counterpart) were present in six cities including Paris, Lille, Rouen and Marseille. Our leaflet called for the building of general assemblies in all work places to organise the next phase of the struggle. We called for the immediate preparation towards a public and private sector 24-hour general strike.
Our political demands were well received, including our insistence on the necessity to create a mass fighting party of the working class, capable of organising and uniting the experience and struggle of workers, unemployed and youth. A party that could offer a real alternative to this capitalist system.
Such a party would fight for a socialist society in which the main, determining sectors of the economy be placed under workers' control and management.
In The Socialist 19 March 2005: