FRENCH trade unions and student unions have mounted huge general strikes and protest actions in recent months against the massive rise in unemployment.
France’s unemployment rate has risen to a two-year high as the capitalist economy continues to be hit by the global slump.
The jobless rate totalled 8.7% between January and March, up from a revised 7.6% for the last quarter of 2008, official figures have shown.
Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has been forced to admit that the situation that workers and youth face at the hands of crisis-ridden capitalism is ‘brutal’.
France has been hard hit by the slump but the Spanish economy is being destroyed by the crisis. Spain currently has an 18.1% jobless rate. The UK unemployment level is currently 7.1%.
Meanwhile in France, unemployment is revolutionising hundreds of thousands of French youth.
The jobless rate for 15 to 24-year-olds stood at 24.2% in the first three months of this year, the latest figures showed. More and more French students and youth are taking to the streets and leading trade union actions.
Separate official data released last month showed that the French economy contracted by 1.2% between January to March, following a decline of 1.5% during the October to December period.
The French government expects the economy to contract by 3% for 2009 as a whole.
In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, unemployment rose to 7.7% from 7.6% in March. The economy – particularly its car plants – faces rationalisation, closure and thousands of job losses.
Spain’s unemployment rate of 18.1% is the highest in the EU.
Unemployment in the 16 countries using the euro increased in April to its highest level in nearly ten years, official data has shown.
The unemployment rate in the eurozone rose to 9.2% from 8.9% in March.
Unemployment in the wider 27-member European Union (EU) rose to 8.6% in April from 8.4% the previous month.
Eurostat estimates that 20.8m people in the EU were unemployed in April. This was an increase of 556,000 from March’s figure.
Top of the EU unemployment League table is Spain on 18.1%, Latvia on 17.4%, and Lithuania on 16.8%
Consumer spending is vital for the US economy and consequently the world economy.
US consumer spending fell for the second month in a row in April, despite an increase in personal income, official data has shown.
Consumer spending dipped 0.1%, compared with a revised fall of 0.3% in March, the Commerce Department said, while savings rose.
Personal income rose 0.5% – its largest monthly increase since May last year – thanks to tax cuts and benefit payments from the government’s stimulus package. Savings also rose. The personal savings rate – calculated as savings as a percentage of post-tax income – rose to 5.7% from 4.5% in March.
That was the highest rate since February 1995.
Throughout the EU and the US the productive forces are being destroyed at a prodigious rate – witness the bankrupting of General Motors.
Trade union leaders are refusing to fight, and are sacrificing their members’ jobs, wages, health care and pensions, to try to rescue capitalism from its crisis.
All their efforts are coming to nothing. The working class is being driven remorselessly along the revolutionary road by the deepening crisis. The only way that the productive forces can be saved from destruction by the capitalist crisis is through the victory of the socialist revolution throughout the EU and the US.