ON JANUARY 21, ‘let’s march for freedom, equality, fraternity,’ the French trade union federation CGT is urging.
It said: ‘201 personalities are calling to march on Sunday January 21 to demand the abandonment of the asylum and immigration law.’
French President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism for aligning with the far right after his minority government helped pass an immigration law just before Christmas 2023 that was heavily influenced by the right-wing Les Républicains party and supported by the far-right National Rally.
Soon after it was passed, the law was heralded by far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen who proclaimed an ‘ideological victory’.
The immigration law includes several measures inspired by the National Rally’s policy platform. For example, access to certain social benefits will be conditional on a longer period of legal residence in France.
Also, sanctions against companies employing undocumented workers will be stepped up.
The CGT appeal announced: ‘Citizen marches are to remind people of the essentials, starting with solidarity.
‘In our diversity of ideas, commitments, professions, we express our great concern after the vote on the so-called “asylum-immigration” law.
‘This is a dangerous turning point in the history of our Republic.
‘Firstly, because this law does not respond to the causes of the forced exile of men, women, children fleeing wars or global warming, nor to the challenges of reception with dignity, nor to the challenge of the definition of a dignified and humane integration policy.
‘Then, because it was written at the dictation of hate mongers who dream of imposing their “national preference” project on France, it torpedoes the supporting pillars of our republican pact, inherited from the National Council of the Resistance.
‘It thus attacks land rights as much as the fundamental rights proclaimed by the Constitution: to work, to education, to housing, to health, etc.
‘In doing so, all of us, French and foreigners alike, find ourselves threatened.
‘Victor Hugo wrote: “Stifle all hatred, drive away all resentment, be united, you will be invincible.”
‘Concerned about unity and solidarity rather than endless division of our society, we ask the President of the Republic not to promulgate this law.
‘On Sunday, January 21, we call to demonstrate in our diversity our attachment to the motto of the Republic: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.’
In an earlier statement, the CGT declared: ‘Undocumented workers on strike and fighting for regularisation need your solidarity.
‘With the CGT, from October 17, 2023, they used an inalienable constitutional right: the right to strike which gives them the same dignity of protest as all workers, with or without papers, engaged in a collective struggle.
‘They remain mobilised today and waiting for a complete response from the Ministry of the Interior, which began on November 2nd, then followed by a second meeting on November 26, to approve a document of return to work and thus initiate the process of producing an “employee” residence permit for which they entered the movement.
‘Does the adoption of an unfair law on immigration, under pressure from the right and the extreme right, explain the reluctance of the Minister of the Interior to commit to a favourable outcome for all the strikers?
‘What happens to the promises of regularisation through work, displayed by (prime minister) Elisabeth Borne and (interior minister) Gérald Darmanin on the evening of the vote for this harmful legislative measure?
‘Our organisation reaffirms its determination to maintain pressure to ensure that these elements of language are transformed into action as quickly as possible.
‘These 502 workers will not be the adjustment variable of this detestable parliamentary process!
‘For the CGT, this exemplary fight, in the continuity of the victorious struggles engaged by our organisation since 2008, reminds us that these strikers are an integral part of the working class of this country.
‘The unwavering class solidarity of all the CGT union structures will be one of the means enabling these 502 workers to achieve victory.
‘This requires financial support commensurate with their needs, but it also implies a commitment and militant determination from everyone alongside undocumented workers until the final victory of the workers on strike!’
The workers’ strike leaflet said: ‘We, undocumented workers are on strike, employees in construction, logistics, waste, cleaning, distribution… for the benefit of companies such as Sépur, Chronopost, Véolia, Suez, GLS, DPD, Fedex, Géodis, ONET, Atalian, Carrefour, Franprix, the Rungis MIN wholesalers…
‘For the vast majority of us, we work as temporary workers, which allows us to hide the overexploitation of which we are victims.
‘Since Tuesday October 17, 2023, more than 650 of us have been fighting on 33 strike pickets in our companies to win our regularisation and our rights: we refuse to continue to be overexploited.
‘Because we are undocumented workers, we experience multiple discrimination in our companies. Our working conditions are systematically degraded; the most precarious contracts are imposed on us (temporary work, extras, self-employment).
- However, we are workers in France but we are excluded from collective agreements and social rights.
- We are an integral part of the working class of this country.
- We create wealth and development like our colleagues.
- We pay and contribute like you to the national solidarity social security system.
- We refuse to continue to be disrespected and ignored.
‘In Île-de-France, (the province including Paris), these realities are not debatable: immigrant workers with or without papers represent 40 to 62% of workers in the home help, construction, hotel and catering, cleaning, security and agri-food (INSEE figures, 2023 study)
‘We are determined to fight for our dignity as workers, our rights and equal treatment: “Equal pay for equal work”.’
Meanwhile, in her wishes for the new year 2024, Sophie Binet, General Secretary of the CGT, said: ‘In 2023, the mobilisation against pension reform has brought unionism back to its rightful place, giving workers back their voice.
‘If Macron imposes his reform by force, ignoring parliament, the streets and public opinion, his mandate is now tainted by a serious political and democratic error.
‘To divert attention from social issues, he now follows the far-right agenda.
‘This trend is observed on a global scale where armed conflicts are increasing and military budgets are exploding.
‘Also, the CGT wishes to express its solidarity with the Ukrainian and Palestinian people currently under bombs.
‘We will not let this happen.
‘The words liberty, equality and fraternity are not there to decorate our town halls.
‘The immigration law breaks with republican principles, establishing national preference and calling into question land law, stigmatising foreigners and obscuring their essential contribution.
The heroes of the front line during the pandemic are now presented as delinquents, an injustice that the CGT refuses to accept. The CGT will always fight racism and anti-Semitism.
‘The year 2024 will therefore be that of resistance against the far right and the power of money.
‘While polluting the most, the rich block any environmental transformation to preserve their privileges.
‘This year the national resistance programme celebrates its 80th anniversary, the CGT encourages people to organise to respond to the environmental challenge and build a fairer society.
‘Perspectives which call for organising with the CGT to regain control over work and living conditions.
‘From Eurotunnel to Onet via Grand Frais, Vertbaudet, ST Microelectronics, the grand Carlton hotel… These struggles have made it possible to win salary increases but also and above all to win dignity and solidarity in our workplaces.
‘ “Producers, let’s save ourselves” says the song. In 2024, let’s blow our own forge, let’s be everything.
‘In 2024, the CGT wishes for a year of peace, justice, solidarity and struggle to transform work and achieve a fairer world.’