May Day uprising: in France and across Europe workers rise up against capitalist crisis


THOUSANDS of workers and young people took to the streets throughout France on Sunday sending a clear ‘message’ that workers are preparing a massive battle to stop president Emmanuel Macron carrying out the war on their rights and wages.

Macron, the ‘president of the rich’, went into last Sunday’s run-off against Marine Le Pen (leader of the neo-fascist National Rally Party) playing down his programme for rescuing French capitalism by driving up the retirement age, ending laws protecting workers from being sacked arbitrarily, forcing those on benefits into low-paid jobs and introducing tuition fees for university students.

Macron played on the hatred of French workers and youth for Le Pen to secure a victory thanks to a combination of mass abstentions and reluctant votes to keep her out.

On May Day, the working class made it clear that now the gloves are off and they will take action to halt Macron’s planned attacks and are preparing to remove him.

116,500 demonstrated across France with 24,000 marching in Paris. In the city of Toulouse, the powerful CGT trade union stated bluntly: ‘There will be a fight over pensions, that’s clear – battle has been declared.’

With record inflation pushing the cost of living to unaffordable levels, a confrontation between Macron and the working class poses before workers the issue of kicking him out immediately.

This was expressed by Benoit Teste, head of the FSU teachers’ union, who told the press: ‘This is a very political May Day, where workers intend to weigh heavily on all the big issues.’

The May Day demonstration in Paris, dominated by banners proclaiming ‘Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices’ and ‘Macron, Get Out’, was confronted by at least 5,000 police wearing riot gear while water cannons and armoured cars were deployed on the streets.

Teargas and baton charges were used on marchers at the Place de la Bastille as the demonstrators vented their anger at the banks – regarded as Macron’s puppetmasters. While a clearly worried Macron was urging the working class to stay ‘calm’, the French capitalist state was preparing for a confrontation.

In Germany, tens of thousands took to the streets to mark International Labour Day with over 14,000 marching in Berlin in what the organisers designated ‘Revolutionary May 1 demonstration’.

At one rally, Fran Werneke, head of the biggest European trade union Verdi, warned the German government against a new arms race over the decision to spend £840 million on the military at the expense of social welfare.

In Greece, Metro stations ground to a halt and ships were left in port as thousands of workers joined May Day rallies in Athens to protest against soaring energy and food prices. Over 10,000 marched in Athens converging on the parliament building over cost of living increases that have become unaffordable for Greek workers.

Turkish protesters gathered in Istanbul chanting: ‘Long live labour and freedom! Long live May Day!’ in what the government called an ‘unauthorised’ demonstration. When they refused to disperse, riot police waded in dragging them away and arresting 164 people.

Turkey’s annual inflation rate hit a massive 68% in April driven sky high by the imperialist war on Russia driving the cost of living far beyond the reach of workers and the poor.

May Day demonstrations took place throughout Europe on Sunday and every one expressed the refusal of the workers across the continent to put up with being thrown into poverty and starvation as the price to pay for capitalist economic collapse and its drive to war for regime change in Russia.

The workers of Europe face the same enemy: a bankrupt ruling class supported by riot police intent on dumping this historic crisis on the backs of workers, youth and the poor.

With the tide of revolution sweeping across Europe, the issue is to unite the working class against the common enemy by building sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International throughout Europe to mobilise general strikes in every country to bring down their capitalist governments and go forward to establishing the Socialist United States of Europe.