Crs Riot Police Attack Weather Service Workers

Joint union and retirees rally in Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrenees last Thursday for an increase in pensions
Joint union and retirees rally in Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrenees last Thursday for an increase in pensions

CRS riot police were used against striking Meteo-France weather service workers who were picketing and blockading the organisation’s Toulouse site at 22.30 on Tuesday night, October 14.

The CGT, CFDT, FO and Spasnet-Solidaires unions have launched a one week strike to defend weather service jobs, which began on Monday, October 13.

Following Tuesday’s strike and national demonstration in Toulouse against government cuts in the service – forecast to involve the shutting down of at least half the departmental weather centres in France – the Toulouse centre was being picketed and occupied by 100 strikers.

The CRS forced a way through blasting jets of tear gas at the front ranks of the picket and cleared a path for the entrance of a night shift requisitioned by the centre’s director.

Yannick Mur, Spasnet Solidaires delegate complained: ‘The only negotiation is to send in the CRS.’

The attacks on the publicly-funded weather service are part of the national programme, Révision Génerale des Politiques Publiques (RGPP) designed to drastically cut government spending.

The Toulouse Meteo-France centre is the largest in the country and employs 1,000 workers.

In addition to the current cuts, unions say that the Sarkozy-initiated public service job elimination programme – which involves non-replacement of one in every two workers who retire – will remove 500 weather service jobs out of the present 3,700.

It is planned to close 60% of the departmental weather centres by 2017.

Wednesday’s mass-meeting voted to continue the strike.

Full forecasts provided for the French public television channels stopped on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, a strike of primary school teachers in the Paris region took place on Thursday, October 16.

The action is against the ‘reform’ of primary education introduced this term, job cuts and attempts to restrict their entitlement to hold union meetings – two half days per year for union activity.

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, said that ‘difficulties’ prevented implementing the Sarkozy anti-strike ‘minimum service’ law which entails town halls and mairies organising cover for striking teachers in primary schools.

He called for parents to make their own arrangements instead.

Teaching unions said there had been a 60% response to the strike call. 348 out of 600 schools were affected according to management.

Thursday also saw joint union and retirees-organised demonstrations nationwide in the main towns which called for pensions to be increased immediately to counter the sky-rocketing cost of living.

A 1.38% increase for 2008 was deemed unacceptable, well behind the rate of inflation, and especially in the light of the enormous sums made available to failing French banks (360bn euros).

10,000 marched in Paris with big turnouts in the other towns. Demands included an immediate monthly increase of 200 euros and the return of indexing pensions to wages. A petition to president Sarkozy is being organised.

There is great and continuing furore in the French press and media following the friendly football match on Tuesday evening at the Stade de France, Paris, between France and Tunisia.

No, it wasn’t the result – France won 3-1, it wasn’t the players fouling each other or crowd disturbances.

It was the whistling of the pre-match Marseillaise by large, pro-Tunisian sections of the crowd. Quelle horreur!

Reams of print and hours of TV and radio are being devoted to telling the ungrateful and obviously unpatriotic French people with North African connections, thanks to French colonialism, that they are disrespectful to the hymn, the players and the country; such shocking behaviour will not be tolerated.

Not content with being able to call on the 2003 law which says insulting the national flag and hymn can earn you up to six months inside and a 7,500 euros fine, President Sarkozy called for sterner measures.

He condemned the whistlers: ‘What happened was intolerable.’

Matches would be stopped if it occurred again.

Taking time out from ‘re-founding capitalism’ a special meeting was held and a communiqué issued by the Minister of Sports, Roselyne Bachelot.

Delivering it to the cameras she intoned: ‘Every match in which the Marseillaise is whistled will be immediately stopped’ and ‘all matches with the country concerned will be suspended’.

She added: ‘Government members (present at the match) will immediately leave the sporting venue where our national hymn is whistled at.’

Prime Minister Francois Fillon reckoned that Tuesday’s match should have been stopped.

TV programmes continually feature deliberations on the question of the mechanics of throwing 50,000 football fans out of a stadium without causing trouble.

Thierry Henri, the French team’s captain, quipped: ‘This is the second time we’ve played away in three days.’