THE massive strike movement against the Socialist Party-imposed anti-union laws is continuing in France with the railways due to take national strike action today while the Paris Metro is due to begin an ‘open-ended’ strike action tomorrow.
French President Francois Hollande yesterday again insisted that his imposed anti-union measures will not be withdrawn. ”The bill will not be withdrawn,’ he told the French media. ‘The text assures the best performance for businesses and offers new rights to employees’, he sought to maintain.
At the same time yesterday, a general strike erupted in Belgium around similar issues – against the lengthening of working hours and a rise in the retirement age. Train drivers and prison guards took strike action along with police officers, teachers and civil servants.
In France, six of the country’s eight oil refineries are still halted or running at reduced capacity due to union action, while Air France pilots have voted to strike for at least six days in June in a separate dispute over productivity targets.
The CGT has called a National Day of Action for all unions for 14 June – when the bill goes before the Senate. On that day there will be a general strike and millions will march throughout France, especially in Paris where masses of workers and youth plan to march on the Senate.
This massive action is to take place four days after the EUFA European Football Championship is due to start, on June 10th, and then last for a full month, with its final match on July 10th! The French ruling class and its Socialist government will have to have the streets cleared and the trains and transport system running if the tournament is to take place.
They have already made their preparations. The State of Emergency that was brought in to deal with terrorist attacks was due to expire on May 28 but has been extended till the end of July by the French parliament. It was extended specifically to cover the Euro 2016 football tournament and the Tour de France cycling race.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls sought and won parliament’s approval for a further extension in order to ensure security at what will be ‘two high-profile sporting events’. He said: ‘Faced with events this big – which must take place in conditions of security and which at the same time should be a celebration – we have to ensure security.’ He added: ‘The state of emergency cannot be permanent but on the occasion of these big events . . . we have decided to prolong it.’
Under a state of emergency the interior minister has the power to place under house arrest any person whose behaviour is considered ‘a threat to security and public order’, and to order searches of homes at any hour without involving the court. Such threats include strikes and demonstrations, which face being banned by the state and their leaders placed under house arrest.
President Hollande, the political leader of the French ruling class, has refused to withdraw his government’s anti-union laws and is determined to have it out with the trade unions and the masses of the French youth that are daily battling the CRS riot police on the streets of the capital and in many other French cities.
These two forces are now heading for a massive collision at a very great speed. Hollande is banking on the Communist Party-dominated CGT retreating, and splitting the movement of the workers, unions and the youth as it did in May and June 1968. However, the French working class are in no mood to surrender to Hollande and the bosses, and such a retreat may not be possible.
If that is so, then a revolutionary general strike is on the agenda and with it massive clashes between the French workers and the ruling class – with the taking of power clearly posed in front of the working class and the youth. Such a struggle can only have a major effect on the UK’s EU referendum on June 23 and on the workers’ movement throughout the EU – from Belgium through to Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain.
With revolution sweeping through Europe the time has never been better for establishing sections of the Fourth International throughout Europe to tear down the EU and European capitalism and replace it with the Socialist United States of Europe!