IT is Tuesday, 3.00pm in Paris and people are still pouring into Place D’Italie for the start of the latest massive anti-government demonstration by youth and workers demanding the withdrawal of the CPE (first job contract).
For the first time since the movement began, a general strike is taking place across France and all the trade union federations, student unions and high school youth organisations have responded to the call.
Despite the rain, young people as well as workers have been out in force since this morning. All along the route of the march they are chanting ‘Resist! Resist!’, ‘Sarkozy is the Criminal!’, ‘Withdraw the CPE Now!’
At a mass meeting at Jussieu University in central Paris this morning, students vowed to continue their blockade and to step up the struggle.
Palem, a student at Paris VII-Jussieu, told News Line: ‘I think that we are in a time where the young have decided to say “no” and to question the way politics is ruining our lives and our economy and our way of life.
‘We can’t stand any more being in poverty. France is far from being a third world country but the fact is our government has decided to go fifty years back in time and this is a real danger.
‘The problem of unemployment can’t be solved by measures which only make more poverty and insecure, unstable jobs. Unemployment is a real problem in France but the solutions we are being given now will weaken the power of the working class and cause more economic instability.’
Kel aged 21, another Jussieu student, said: ‘On Thursday’s demonstration it was the same thing as last Saturday – the police surrounded every street and we saw some police on the roofs of the buildings seeing where the people are coming and going.
‘We are under American imperialism, I want rid of capitalism, we want a fair system for everybody – immigrants and people who are born in France alike.’
The numbers on Tuesday’s demonstration in Paris were said to be twice as big as the Saturday March 18th demonstration to Place de la Nation in which more than 500,000, mainly youth and trade unionists, took part; while the numbers demonstrating throughout the whole of France were estimated to be three million.
Yesterday morning before the demonstration, there were railworkers at Gare Austerlitz from the Sud Rail Union Federation, who welcomed the reports of the News Line and welcomed the struggle of the local government workers in Britain who were also taking strike action yesterday.