Saturday, April 01, 2006

France 2006 General Strike

The world has been watching the French strikes all week. Sure is a lot of red in that crowd, eh? Strike action is spreading from students to public and now even private sector workers. A general strike is looming. Solidarity strikes have sprung up in England and Germany looks to be next. Organizers are continuing the massive strike action in the US versus the racist reactionary anti-immigration agenda of the right wing. Many are murmuring about 1968 and the wave of worker revolt that brought down fascists in several countries, toppled Nixon, and brought socialist governments into power across Europe (and also, unfortunately, led to the Trilateral agenda).

In case you thought you were getting an unbiased view from the American "news" media (including the liberal darling, John Stewart who literally lied about the extent of violence in the strikes), the ICFI correctly reports:
The reaction of the [US] media has been universally hostile, varying from denunciations by the right-wing press of “mob rule” to the more low-key perplexity expressed by the liberal media, which suggests that French are suffering from some type of collective dementia because they believe they have the right to such things as job security.


In one way or another all of the commentaries suggest the protests are illegitimate. They declare that France’s labor laws and social protections are outmoded and must be “reformed” if corporations are to thrive and create jobs. They suggest that “everyone” agrees with this, everyone, that is, except the millions of workers and young people marching on the streets of France. Echoing the infamous comments of British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the time of the invasion of Iraq, the US media suggests that the strength of a democracy is measured by the ability of political leaders to defy the will of the people and do “what’s right.”


Complaining that France sported “only” 14 billionaires, as compared to 24 in similarly sized Britain, Pearlstein concludes his column: “Indeed, when you ask French university students who is the Bill Gates of France, they look at you blankly. It’s not simply that they can’t name one. The bigger problem is that they can’t imagine why it matters, or why that has anything to do with why they can’t find a good job.”
The American media is nothing more that the bought whore of Wall Street. Yeah, Gates has created so many jobs for Americans. Perlstein is a moron. Gates has created more jobs in India than in the US, not to mention the hordes of 1099 employees he imports, and he constantly complains about the American education system and how lazy young American's are. He has even made speeches at high schools including the statement that a job as a street sweeper was considered "opportunity" by our forefathers. He of course forgets to mention that systemic racism and anti-labor practices meant that is was much easier for capitalists to exploit the masses 100 years ago (which I'm sure is truely what he is complaining about).

The IWW had posted a statement from the CNT-F some excerpts of which follow:
Three million demonstrators on Tuesday 28th March! And it was a weekday... so that's three million on strike! Both public-sector and private-sector employees realised how important it was to strike, in order to achieve the greatest number possible on the streets to express their total rejection of the CPE, and indeed of precarious labour in general.


The CNT calls on all workers, on the unemployed, on precarious workers and "sans-papiers" to join with the university and high-school students and participate in the general assemblies, so that sector by sector we can build the strike from the grassroots.
The CWI reports:
There are more and more discussions amongst workers about the need for a general strike to try to turn the tide against the series of attacks they have suffered. While currently public sector workers feel more confident to strike on the days of protest there is also anger amongst the private sector as well. If private sector workers saw that there was the chance of a generalised struggle that would not leave them isolated in their individual companies then they too would join in. While a national student meeting has called for blockades of railway stations and motorways on March 30 and a general strike on April 4, a more generalised strategy is needed. However it cannot be ruled out that the French tradition of spontaneous strikes will be seen again with workers deciding to continue striking.
We at FoOL stand in solidarity with all of the strikers fighting for a better world. We stand against the neo-liberal agenda which reduces all life to a question of profits. We encourage our brothers and sisters to consider marching and striking in solidarity wherever you may live or work, to stand up and fight to end the attacks by capital on the working class.

For a first hand account from a perspetive sympathetic to the strikers, and eyewitness photos as well, I highly encourage you to visit - unrest in france

Mar 31, 2006: 2 hour long blockade of the Gare de Lyon train station in central Paris
more photos at

Cross posted at the Uncapitalist Journal.

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