Wednesday, April 05, 2006

France General Strike 2006 Update

Grève Générale 2006!

Workers and students across the world have begun to show support for the French movement or take similar action themselves. In France, the strike has continued to gain traction among the unions and public service workers, with over 20% of the public service on strike as of April 4, with over 3 million total people estimated on strike nationwide.
  • In Germany, students occupied the rectorate of Bielefeld university since 1st February in a protest against the introduction of student fees. From 15th February students at Padeborn University were occupying the rectorate of the area's high schools. As of 2nd March these occupations were evicted by force.

  • In the UK, 1.5 million people went on strike against proposed pension cuts. Also, students occupied Sussex University Library to protest against redundancies and cuts in staffing, some declaring solidarity with students in France.

  • In Japan, during the anti-war demonstrations in March 19th, young workers in carried placards against the CPE and new PSE laws which will come into effect in Japan in the near future.

  • In New Zeland, over 1,000 high school students walked out of class to protest against youth pay rates, whilst linking their protest to the events in France. The protest ended with some violence and a sit-down protest in a major intersection.

  • Workers in Gothenburg, Sweden smashed several windows on the Centerpartiet local office in protest against new labour laws proposed by Maud Olofsson, The Chairman of the Swedish liberal party Centerpartiet. She openly admitted that she has been directly inspired by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepins controversial French CPE law.

    500 people, youths and workers, gathered at the central plaza in Stockholm to demonstrate against the Centerpartiet attack on worker rights and in solidarity with the youth revolt in France. The group was dispersed by mounted police.

    Also, in Denmark 200 protested in front of the French embassy in solidarity with French youths.

  • In the US, millions marched in rallies and strikes across the USA to protest against anti-immigrant bill HR 4437. In the days following the demonstration tens of thousands of students have walked out of high schools and held spontaneous demonstrations, blocking traffic and picketing city halls.

    Several thousand students have been involved in walkouts in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona, in some cases having to break out of their schools to join demonstrations, which have included blocking traffic and in one case throwing rocks at the US border patrol headquarters.

    On Monday 26th a walkout in Los Angeles county involved around 36,000 students. In San Diego, 30-40 student protestors were arrested for truanting on March 29th during one of the protests, and there were reports of 250 students and 80 police officers fighting a pitched battle with blocks of concrete outside Oceanside High School. Demonstrations and further arrests were also reported in Houston, El Paso and Los Angeles.

    In New York, young people from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) marched to the French Consulate in Manhattan with banners calling for the withdrawal for the CPE.

    SDS was one of the main groups involved in the university occupations and teach-ins in the US during the late '60s, which has been revived in 2006 with 30 chapters across the country. I met some of the leaders of this group recently and I can tell you they are great people. I encourage everyone to consider joining up with the SDS. They have a lot of positive momentum right now.

  • Finally, in Spain on March 31st, a group of around 60 people assembled in front of the French consulate in Barcelona in solidarity with the struggle of the french people against the "CPE, precariousness, exploitation by work, slavery of workers...". A cordon of 20 mossos d'esquadra (Catalan cops) blocked the entrance of the consulate. In November there were two arrests at the consulate during a demonstration held in solidarity with the uprising in the suburbs.
These reports have been summarized from and other sources.

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