THE ‘YELLOW Vests’ who have been out on the streets of France every Saturday for over a year have joined forces with the mighty French unions with explosive revolutionary consequences.
The unions launched an all-out strike on the 5th December last year which has paralysed France’s bus and rail network for over a month now.
France’s transport strike against French President Macron’s attack on pensions, has now entered its 52nd day. It is the longest rail workers’ strike since the May 1968 French revolution.
Last Saturday Unsa – the biggest union among Paris Metro drivers – announced that it was suspending the indefinite strike.
If anything, this has spurred on the other unions to fight all the harder.
Yesterday was declared a mass ‘day of action’ with unions calling on their members to walk out and ‘completely block’ all transport services.
Massive crowds turned out for the Paris demonstration which began at 11am yesterday morning in the Place de la République before moving west through the city centre to Concorde. Teachers were also on strike with schools closed. Even the iconic Eiffel Tower was shut.
The revolt against Macron has spread throughout France, with teachers, port workers, firefighters, bus drivers, doctors and nurses all now striking against Macron and his hated attack on pensions.
On Thursday evening, tens of thousands of people carrying torches were out on the streets for the ‘March of Light’ which took place in every one of the largest cities of France. The event was called by France’s CGT trade union body.
Protesters chanted ‘revolution’, ‘the street is ours,’ ‘Macron traitor’ and ‘Macron we’re going to come for you.’ The revolution has begun, while the strikers are up against an ever more brutal police force.
During the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests, police fired rubber bullets the size of golf balls – 25 people lost an eye, five lost a hand from the stun grenades, and 318 have suffered head wounds as the police charged the crowds swinging their batons and spraying tear gas from hand-held canisters directly into protesters’ faces.
Last week, 1,200 French doctors resigned, saying that funding for the health system has been cut to shreds, that hospitals have a serious staff shortage and are no longer safe for patients.
Under the slogan ‘fight now or die later’ lawyers voted for a total strike to defend their current pension plan. They have been turning up in flash mobs outside courts, discarding their robes, throwing them down onto the steps of the courts. 150 sanitation workers also threw away their overalls protesting at the way they are treated at work.
French trade unions have been blocking the ports and disrupted power production. On Tuesday, France’s biggest hydroelectric power site at Grand’Maison was shut down by workers protesting at the attack on their pensions.
Earlier in the week, 200 electricians at one of France’s nuclear power plants voted to block the site.
Meanwhile, the French courthouse was targeted by fireworks. The mass demonstration outside the courts demanded to free the political prisoners of the ‘Yellow Vests’ movement.
With the Unsa Paris Metro drivers union suspending the indefinite strike, the burning question is one of revolutionary leadership, so the strike isn’t betrayed like in 1968.
In May and June 1968, riot police stormed students occupying the Sorbonne University. The French working class responded with a general strike that brought down the government of Charles de Gaulle, bringing the country to the brink of revolution.
However, rather than seize the power and hold it, the French Stalinists rescued de Gaulle, calling an election and allowing him back into the country (he had gone to Germany to meet with the French military), ensuring the survival of the Bonapartist Fifth Republic in 1968. Today, the revolutionary movement is putting an end to the Fifth Republic.
The betrayal of the Unsa union leadership must be met with an all-out indefinite general strike by all French unions to bring Macron down.
What is required in France is the rapid building of a section of the Fourth International to lead the French working class to take the power, and put an end to French capitalism, signalling the beginning of the end for capitalism throughout Europe.