Watch: France Erupts in Protests as Unions Strike Over Labour Law Reforms
Growing strikes by worker unions from different sectors have been trying to bring France to a standstill prior to the Euro 2016 football match which starts this Friday. Students and workers in France have been resisting a reform in the labour law as proposed by president Hollande. Backed by both Prime Minister Valls and Employment minister Myriam El Khomri, the new work law seeks to increase work hours as well as give employers more power to sack workers. The government believes this reform will result in economic growth and reduce unemployment by giving the businessmen and investors incentive to do business more freely.
For last two weeks many parts of France, mainly Paris, have witnessed marches, blockades, demonstrations as many trade unions have joined the nationwide strike. Most are solidarity demonstrations while some groups like the hauliers have gone on indefinite strikes. Railway workers have also joined the strike, along with worker unions of fuel pumps, oil refineries, and nuclear power plants that have been shut. It is anticipated that the government would have to import electricity soon if the strikes go on.
Many students have joined in the movement with a shared concern about the work law. Nuit Debout (rise up at night) meetings over the last few months have contributed to direct actions programs. The police have been ruthlessly violent in dealing with the protestors, and in turn, the protestors have been using techniques like ‘black bloc’.
The government is cracking down on the movement to corner the trade unions, especially CGT, after losing parliamentary support for its reform due to rising sympathy for the strikers. By invoking the section of the French constitution which allows suspension of parliamentary debate on the reform, allowing it to be passed without democratic means, the government has further infuriated the protestors and sparked an uprising. The workers wish to prove to the government that the country runs on their labour, and therefore, they can paralyse it if the amendment facilitating systematic exploitation of labour is not revoked.
Report by Aritry Das
Edited by Manisha
Video by Insurrection News