YELLOW Vests and trade unionists are seeking to deliver a crushing blow to France’s president Emmanuel Macron. The CGT union federation has called a general strike for next Tuesday.
Its demands are higher wages, a tax system that hits the rich rather than the poor, more money for public services and defence of the right to protest free from police aggression.
Other trade unionists beyond the CGT have backed the call. The SUD Rail branch at Paris Nord said, ‘Rail workers, are you ready? We have our accounts to settle with the government! On 5 February, we have to block everything; we need to build an unlimited general strike.’
Meanwhile, France’s Council of State yesterday began examining an urgent request by the CGT trade union and the French Human Rights League to ban police from using a form of rubber-bullet launcher in which ball-shaped projectiles are shot out of specialised handheld launchers.
Lawyers have also petitioned the government to ban ‘sting-ball’ grenades, which contain 25g of TNT high-explosive. The deadly grenades deliver an explosion of small rubber balls that creates a stinging effect as well as launching an additional load of teargas.
Many serious injuries were reported during yellow vest protests, with people losing eyes, hands and feet. Last Saturday, Jérôme Rodrigues, a leading member of the yellow vests was hit in the eye in Paris. His lawyer has said that he is disabled for life.
As many as 17 people have lost an eye because of the police’s use of such civil war weaponry since the start of the street demonstrations, while at least three have lost their hands. Injuries have happened at demonstrations in Paris and other cities, including Bordeaux and Nantes.
Aïnoha Pascual, a Paris lawyer representing some of of the injured people, said never in recent history had so many serious injuries been seen during protests. She called the sting-ball grenades a military weapon now being used against a civilian population.
Dominique, 54, a childcare worker from rural Normandy, described how she saw said her 21-year-old son’s right hand was blown off and her other son had injuries to his leg and feet.