Saturday, 16 October 2010

Heavens above the 'French Working Class' putting ideas into our heads!”

There is one thing we can certainly say about the French, ‘they know how to do a strike’ and no mucking with them comrades!”
Strikes continued today and after the October 12 national day of action against French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts, with high school students joining striking port, shipyard, oil and transport workers. Police attacked striking high school students in several cities. There were reports of gasoline shortages throughout France.

This is the way to do it!”

Sarkozy has made it clear that he will not back down on the reform that increases the retirement age for a full pension from 65 to 67, and the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. This will allow the state to assess substantial financial penalties on the many workers forced to retire before the pension age because of health or layoff. According to some estimates, this will produce at least a 15 percent cut in pension spending by the state.

On the down side, Sarkozy expects the unions to keep workers’ protests under control, and allow the cuts to pass, as they did in the 2007-8 pension cut demonstrations and the 2009 strikes against the bank bailout. However, workers demanding industrial action against the cuts are growing increasingly frustrated with the trade unions’ inaction.

In a concession to popular demands for strike action against the cuts, a joint meeting of France’s trade union federations called a further day of action on Tuesday, October 19. The militancy of ordinary trade unionists has begun to push their leaders and this was clearly evident when CFDT leader François Chérèque explained, “People are asking us to continue”.   

However, increasingly large numbers of workers realize that such one-day actions have not halted Sarkozy’s cuts.

It will be interesting to see how the situation develops, and I bet David Cameron peevishly whinges about the images of French workers taking to the streets that are spread across our newspapers and beamed into living rooms; and heavens above, putting ideas into our heads!”     

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