The protest against anti labour laws are sharpening in France. Students have joined the workers in support in a big way. The French government has let loose massive repression on the struggle. Hundreds have been arrested in various parts, there have been several major clashes as riot police attacked the protesting workers resulting in injuries. A report.
Since March 9, 2016, workers in France are protesting against a Bill brought by the Hollande government of the Socialist Party to change the labour laws on several counts. The Bill has been named by the protesters for the Employment Minister of France’s government and is known as the El Khomri Bill. Students are also supporting the workers’ struggle against this Bill. In mid-May, the Hollande government brought this Bill into effect bypassing a parliamentary vote, which is possible due to a special provision.
The changes in the labour laws relate primarily to working hours and giving rights to owners to hire and fire freely. While the 35-hour week will continue, it will only be an average. Owners can change it week for week after discussing it with local unions, upto a maximum of 46-hour a week. Firms will also have greater freedom to reduce pay, and can negotiate holidays and special leave, which are yet heavily regulated, with employees. The second set of changes relate to making layoffs easier for employers. In the course of actual struggle, in many places workers are adding the issue of poor housing to their demands.
Starting from March 9, massive demonstrations have taken place in the whole of France with the demonstrators numbering four lakhs or more on March 31. There are different forms of the continuing struggle. Protesters have started a ‘Up all Night’ movement in Paris at Place de La Republique since the 31st night, with a stipulation that they won’t bend their knees during the day. There are also ‘rolling strikes’ called by several unions in which strikes take place in different sectors at different times including at the same time also. In this way, workers staged walkouts in 16 of France’s 19 nuclear stations. On June 2, there was a railway strike and workers of the SNCF national railway authority went on an open ended strike. On June 8, garbage collectors and sewer workers went on strike in Paris. Refinery workers also struck work despite several warnings by the government.
Students have joined the workers in support in a big way. The government of France has let loose massive repression on the struggle. Hundreds have been arrested in various parts, there have been several major clashes as riot police attacked the protesting workers resulting in injuries.
The workers struggle of France is part of the struggles of workers sweeping across the developed world as the imperialist crisis deepens and imperialists intensify loot of developing countries and people on one hand and attack the rights and facilities of the working class of their own countries on the other. The French workers have launched a massive struggle against the immediate attacks on their rights.