France – 3 Million Take Action

A section of the 220,000-strong demonstration in Marseille against the Sarkozy government’s cuts
A section of the 220,000-strong demonstration in Marseille against the Sarkozy government’s cuts

Three and a half million took to the streets across France in the biggest anti-pensions law mobilisation yet on Tuesday, October 12 in 244 demonstrations nationwide, and as lycée pupils and university students entered the fray for the first time in significant numbers.

Lycée student union, Fidl, said that four hundred lycées were blocked on Tuesday, fifty of them in the Paris region. Mass meetings are being held all week in lycées and university campuses with the aim of intensifying the involvement of the youth in the pensions battle.

Mass meetings were being held yesterday in many workplaces to vote the continuation of strike action with oil refinery workers to the fore with the Donges refinery near Nantes, the second largest in France, shut down and blockaded to stop fuel leaving.

Yesterday morning a neighbouring depot which was supplying fuel for distribution to service stations by tankers was blocked causing a two kilometre tail back of the waiting tankers.

With eleven of the twelve refineries in the country affected by industrial action, the availability of petrol and diesel is threatened as motorists are filling their tanks in anticipation of a long strike.

The strike at the Marseille oil terminals at Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera is now in its third week and the cargo port is on strike as well, with over eighty ships at anchor in the approaches and unable to unload, sixty of which are crude oil carriers.

In the National Assembly, an increasingly rattled prime minister François Fillon, said that ‘we have decided to take the reform to its conclusion’.

Bernard Thibault, the CGT leader, in a TV interview on Tuesday evening said that the government had reordered the agenda in the senate to get its key measures voted through first to pre-empt Tuesday’s mobilisation, and that this manoeuvre had backfired with more on the streets than ever.

Opinion polls published in the media show nearly seventy per cent in favour of the mobilisations and sixty plus in support a toughening up of the actions.

In advance of Saturday’s coming nationwide demonstrations, the joint unions in Toulouse called for a mobilisation today.