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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2016

France: workers' revolt against labour law grows

Port and airport workers on the 14 June demo in Paris, photo by Naomi Byron

Port and airport workers on the 14 June demo in Paris, photo by Naomi Byron   (Click to enlarge)

The Hollande/Valls government hoped that by the time Euro 2016 started the months-long strike movement would have run out of energy. But the size and combativity of the 14 June march show that it's still huge. Workers from every section of French industry are here, and every part of France is represented despite the bosses of some coach companies refusing to hire coaches to the CGT trade union to take people to Paris. Naomi Byron reports from France.

Hundreds of strikes have been breaking out. One thing that connects all of them is that strikers are demanding the scrapping of the new labour law.

We are told this law is to improve the economy, make it more "flexible" so jobs can be created to combat the high levels of employment in France, especially among young people.

But the idea that employers are refusing to take on workers because of strict labour laws is nonsense. Last year 85% of new work contracts in France were temporary, and 70% were for a month or less. How much more flexibility do employers want?

14 June 2016 demo, Paris, photo by Naomi Byron

14 June 2016 demo, Paris, photo by Naomi Byron   (Click to enlarge)

In Britain we are constantly told that we must vote to remain in the EU if we want to protect workers' rights. But the unelected EU commissioner for the euro and social dialogue, Valid Dombrovskis, welcomed the labour law during a recent visit to France: "[It] is an initiative that is intended to address the rigidities of the labour market, which should boost employment".

Unlike French workers, the EU has made no protest against the anti-democratic way the labour law was passed. Failing to win a majority in parliament, the Hollande/Valls government used an obscure part of the constitution, article 49.3, to force the law through anyway.

14 June 2016 demo, Paris, photo Naomi Byron

14 June 2016 demo, Paris, photo Naomi Byron   (Click to enlarge)

But the pressure from the streets makes it even less likely that the government will get a majority the next time the law is discussed in the assembly. MPs could use this to put a vote of no confidence in the government - but last time they failed, leaving the battle to the unions and lycée (further education) students.

The trade unions, in particular the CGT, have been ready to call strikes and demonstrations and declared their willingness to fight till the labour law is dropped, but haven't put forward a clear strategy for how this can be done.

A street stall run by Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI France), photo Naomi Byron

A street stall run by Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI France), photo Naomi Byron   (Click to enlarge)

Gauche Révolutionnaire, the sister organisation of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, is calling for meetings to organise the struggle, general assemblies to be held in every town and city from 15 June to discuss and agree the next steps for the movement.

In the port of Le Havre, left activists within the CGT have shown on a small scale how this could be done across France.

Before each day of action trade unionists have discussed the most effective method of building the struggle, and put it into action. There the struggle involves the masses, not only in very effective blockades of the port and the town, but also with general assemblies at each blockade to discuss how best to continue the struggle.

This could not only help defeat the labour law, but help transform this revolt into an organised political opposition to the government, the right and the far-right, based on workers' struggle.

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In The Socialist 15 June 2016:


EU referendum

EU referendum: whatever the result, political turmoil is ahead

EU: busting the myths that Remain is best for the 99%

TUSC anti-EU tour touches down in Wales

BT Brexit baloney

Letters: EU referendum


International socialist news and analysis

Orlando massacre: working class unity to defeat homophobia, terrorism and racism

France: workers' revolt against labour law grows


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Hilarious, innovative satire on state bureaucracy


Workplace news and analysis

Unison conference 2016: fighting leadership needed more than ever

GMB backs no-cuts budgets and steel nationalisation

Pennine Foods strike forces bosses back to the table

Hospital porters and domestic staff claim jobs and pay victory

Strike at Argos depot against contracting out of jobs

Buses parked three deep in Leeds strike

School support staff mobilise against slashing of pay

Uber drivers strike against unfair fares

Lorry stoppage paves the way to victory

Solidarity with victimised bakers' union rep


Housing crisis

Action to defeat the Housing Act: we won't move!

Housing Act: landlords and developers set to profit

Generation rent demands affordable housing


NHS

Re-open Chorley A&E - end the staff shortages

Hands Off HRI campaign grows from strength to strength


Socialist Party news and analysis

Systemic failures hurt kids in justice system

Them & Us

Socialist Party fundraising: punching above our weight


 

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