In the last weeks, the European working class has been on an accelerating political offensive. There have been mass health strikes in Belgium and Spain, tech strikes over wages in Finland, anti-war protests in Denmark, and a massive mobilization of a half-million workers in Britain. But in France……..
from thefreeonline on by Anarchist Communist Group ..
Millions of workers in France join third mass protest against pension cuts
President Emmanuel Macron is planning to raise the pension age in France by two years to 64. In response there have been two huge mobilisations against these plans, the first on January 19th, the second on January 31st.
The first mobilisation saw 2 million out on the streets. This was exceeded on the second mobilisation. There were 250 demonstrations throughout France.
In Paris 280,000 came out on the streets. There were a lot of creative placards, including ones like“Metro-Boulot-Tombeau”(Undergound-Work- Grave) and “Metro-Boulot-Caveau” (Underground-Work- Burial Chamber) adaptations of the old May 1968 slogan Metro-Boulot- Dodo (Underground- Work- Sleep). There was a large turnout by high school and college students.
Bitter clashes broke out as police assaulted demonstrators in Nantes, Rennes, and Paris, where police repeatedly charged and beat peaceful protesters. Riot police units even attacked the security detail of the trade unions at the head of the march in Paris, after which riot police faced off against the protesters, including units of striking firemen who put on their gear to withstand tear gas.
In the Loiret region there were demonstrations in five towns, Orléans, Montargis, Beaugency, Gien, and Pithiviers. On January 19th in Montargis there were 3,000 on the streets and this was greatly exceeded on January 31st.At Aubenas there were 9,500 out in a town of 17,000.
At La Roche sur Yon there werebetween 18,000 and 20,000 demonstrators almost double the turnout on January 19th.
French pension reform: Third day of protests keeps pressure on Macron
In Limoges, 38,000 demonstrators turned out, ten thousand more than on January 19th. In Poitiers, there were 18,000 demonstrators.
France and all of Europe have been plunged into an intensifying NATO war on Russia, a deepening economic crisis with a vast surge in inflation, and a rapid growth of the class struggle. Under these conditions, it is useless to appeal to Macron to change his mind. His attacks on the working class are driven by a mortal crisis of world capitalism, and the united determination of all the major NATO powers to wage imperialist war abroad and class war at home.
There were about 11,000 demonstrators in Alès (42,000 inhabitants) at least 1,000 more than on the 19th, a very large turnout for a town of 42,000. At Privas to the north, with a population of 10,000 there was a phenomenal turnout of 3,000, a thousand more than on the 19th. In Annonay, a town of 18,000 inhabitants, 8,500 turned out, an increase of 3,500 from January 19th.
At Marseille in the south, an astounding 205,000 came out on the streets. At Nice there were 25,000, at Tarbes 16,000, at Avignon, 20,000. In Toulouse there were 80,000 out, and 30,000 in Montpelier. At Millau, 2000 demonstrated. In Grenoble in the south east, 40,000 marched. In faraway Reunion, one of France’s overseas provinces, 10,000 demonstrated.
Further mobilisations were planned for the 7th and 11th of February, which we will shortly be reporting on.
Many of the demonstrations were orderly, if angry. Anger spilled over in Paris and other towns, where bank windows were smashed, and the police replied with teargas. The French oil industry was paralysed by strikes, and schools, transport and energy were also severely affected. Students occupied the Sciences-Po university in Paris, and several high schools were blockaded there.