OVER half a million high school youth, unemployed youth, university students and workers demonstrated across France on Thursday, March 16.
Millions of workers and youth will be marching today (Saturday March 18) led by the main trade union federations.
They are marching for a future for all youth and for the most basic right of all, not to be sacked without reason and at a moments notice for all youth under 26.
The Sorbonne University in Paris on Thursday morning was sealed off by riot police and tens of thousands of young people attempting to march through the centre of the French capital found themselves surrounded by the special police force, the CRS, the forces who confronted the masses of youth in May/June 1968.
They blocked off the roads and fired tear gas at the masses of youth.
‘Police everywhere, justice nowhere’ the crowds chanted. 100,000 young people and thousands of members of French trade unions joined the Paris demonstration.
The shops in the centre of Paris were shut down on Thursday. Universities remained occupied by the students and high schools were closed.
Young people vowed: ‘We will resist until the government either withdraws the CPE or the government is brought down.
Some students, aware of the international nature of the struggle, carried banners and placards in English, including ‘We will never surrender’ and ‘Bring the government down,’ while many youth called for the ending of the Fifth Republic and going forward to a socialist republic.
The French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin unveiled his labour law ‘liberalisation package CPE’ on the 16th of January 2006.
He said then that ‘urgent’ action was needed to ‘bring the French labour market into the modern era’.
He wanted to make youth exploitation attractive for the employers with a law that would see employers hire 18-26 year olds on two year contracts that would allow them to fire the youths without notice, and without explanation any time that they wished.
In response, student union bodies called for a week of meetings and mobilisation from 30th January including a call for a national day of protest for the 7th of February.
Between February 4th to March 6th, staggered two week holidays occurred which the government hoped to exploit by passing the legislation.
On the 7th of February between 200,000 and 400,000 youths and trade unionists took part in 187 demonstrations across France.
Nevertheless, a second day of action was called for the Tuesday 7th of March.
From early February a basic movement of students began to occupy campuses, strike and blockade their university buildings.
By the 7th of March, roughly half of France’s universities had been occupied.
On this second day of national protest up to a million high school students, higher education students and young workers took part in demonstrations throughout France.
Campus occupations have since continued, incidents of direct action, blockades and protests have been taking place all over France including the occupation of Sorbonne University which was subsequently evicted by 1000 baton wielding, teargas firing riot police.
The French youth say that today’s crisis is much graver than the days of May/June 1968.
There was full employment then and now youth have nothing, no jobs no future, except slave labour and instant sackings.
Now it really is workers of the world unite, you have a world to win and nothing to lose except your chains.