Massive French demonstrations against Macron’s dictatorial health bill

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President Macron depicted as Louis XVI

MASS demonstrations have been taking place over the past weeks in Paris and other major French cities against the Macron government’s dictatorial health bill.

And as of last Monday, people in France now need to show a health pass to enjoy usually routine activities such as sipping coffee in a café or travelling on an intercity train.

The Macron government pressed ahead with the extension of an already-existing health pass to cafes, restaurants and intercity travel, despite four weekends of angry protests that saw over a quarter of a million rally nationwide last Saturday.

The pass has already been required since July 21 to visit cultural venues such as cinemas, theatres and museums. Its extension was approved by France’s Constitutional Council Thursday (August 5).

‘The pass and the vaccination drive should help us avoid new curfews and lockdowns,’ Health Minister Olivier Véran told French daily Le Parisien.

‘I am willing to hear the fears, do everything to reassure. But there comes a time when enough is enough,’ he said.

Yves Veyrier the General Secretary of Force Ouvrière issued a statement last Saturday defending the right to strike: ‘The FO Confederation has taken cognisance of comments made by the Minister of Health, in connection with the implementation of the vaccination obligation, which may suggest a questioning of the right to strike.

‘FO recalls that the right to strike is a constitutional right attached to freedom of association and democracy.

‘FO denounces such comments and expects the government to withdraw them without delay.

‘For its part, FO will defend with determination the right to strike and recalls the recent resolution of its CCN affirming that it will not hesitate to appeal to it at the inter-professional level to defend the rights of employees, wages, unemployment insurance, pensions, public services. and trade union freedoms.’

In a call for mobilisations, trade union federation, the CGT issued the following statement last week:

Yes to vaccine! No to cops and social regression!

For more than a year, the whole world has been shocked by the Covid-19 pandemic. This crisis is multiple and has many consequences in the field of health in the first place but, also, on economic and social questions as well as on the level of democracy.

It highlighted the limits and disastrous consequences of decades of liberal policies carried out for the sole benefit of capitalist interests.

Once again, we are measuring the relentlessness implemented to invent new constraints and new diversions in order to hide the successive failures in the face of the management of the pandemic.

The latest: the extension of the health pass and the obligation of vaccination. While the Minister of Labour said last November that the barrier measures were sufficient to protect employees, it is now imposing a pass on them under threat of sanctions.

The Delta variant raises fears of a new epidemic wave in France and in other countries of the world, it should not be minimised: the figures of new daily cases are there.

We reaffirm the CGT’s position on vaccination, health and social progress all over the world. The vaccine should be free for everyone. However, vaccination cannot be done under all conditions and at all costs.

We are well aware that there are doubts about vaccines. It is through information, education and debate that they can be lifted. Certainly not by threat and duress.

A global disease requires a global response and coordination. However, we are far from it: Only 1% of doses have been administered in poor countries. Countries capable of producing vaccines cannot do so because they do not have the patents …

We reaffirm the need for the lifting of private property on patents which prevents the distribution of vaccines in the world, while being a source of profit inadmissible.

We recall the class implications of this epidemic: The people most likely to develop a severe form of the virus are found among the disadvantaged classes.

Next come those who live in unfavourable housing conditions – with an area of less than 18 m2 per person, the risks of serious Covid are doubled, then people exposed to significant environmental pollution (urban or industrial). These are the areas where the wealthiest populations live that have the highest vaccination rates.

While strongly reaffirming our position on the need for vaccination, we oppose any obligation as well as any anti-social measures.

We must not fall into the trap that is set for us of the division between workers because the other issues of the period are the following announcements by the President of the Republic: the reform of unemployment insurance, suspended by the Council of State a month ago, which could well be put back on the table from the start of the school year and the pension reform which would be initiated ‘as soon as sanitary conditions are met’.

That is to say certainly after the presidential elections. This is exactly what the president of Medef, Geoffroy Roux De Bézieux recommended, who recently stated that the retirement age should be increased to 64 years, against 62 currently, but that the reform should be carried out after the presidential election.

For him, the reform of unemployment insurance is more urgent than that of pensions.

It is inadmissible for this health crisis to serve as a pretext for a new social and democratic breakdown. It is unacceptable that employers can monitor the state of health of employees and unilaterally suspend their employment contract on the sole presumption of illness, without the advice of the occupational physician.

It is unacceptable that they can terminate fixed-term employment contracts and temporary employment contracts before they expire.

In the end, the law further weakens the employment contract and worsens the relationship of subordination by strengthening the power of employers vis-à-vis employees.

While these issues relate to prevention and public health policies, the government persists in relying solely on individuals to contain the pandemic.

Let’s put an end to this virus which has claimed too many victims.

Let us continue to mobilise fully for the defence and strengthening of public services, for the creation of jobs in public hospitals, the relocation of strategic medical productions, earning the 32 hours, the minimum wage at 2,000 euros, retirement at 60, equal pay for women and men, increasing wages … and no longer being told that it is impossible; the 500 largest fortunes in France once again explode their record: they now hold a total wealth of 1,000 billion euros and have benefited from the pandemic, thus seeing their fortune increase by 30% compared to last year!