Braving wind and rain, and then the blinding sun, French workers and students took to the streets on Tuesday, March 28. In Paris alone, the massive demonstration called by the students’ and trade unions gathered between 700,000 and 1,000,000 people. Upwards of 3,000,000 took to the streets throughout the whole of France.
After the high school and university students, along with their parents, came, from Paris and the provinces alike, the battalions of labour, with the magnificent delegation of the CGT, singing L’Internationale and Le Chiffon Rouge. This clearly demonstrates that the rank and file trade unionists are gaining momentum and becoming increasingly radical. Slogans that would have been unthinkable little more than a week ago, such as the call for a general strike, or the demand for the dissolution the National Assembly, are gaining an echo and influence.
Of course, this can only mean one thing. The only way in which the movement can remain alive, and indeed continue to gather momentum, especially after the show of strength on Tuesday March 28, a great effort on the part of the workers and youth, is by allowing the working class to put itself at the head of movement, which in turn must arm itself with a Marxist programme and method of struggle. As Marxists it is our undeniable duty to participate in this movement fully, and to strive to preserve the unity of the workers, youth and students at any cost with enthusiasm and without fear of criticising its shortcomings.
The only way the workers and youth can move forward to victory and avoid falling into tiredness and disappointment, is by declaring a proper and effective general strike aimed not only at the withdrawal of the Contrat Première Embauche but also at the unseating of the current government, which has by far overrun its mandate. The demand for the withdrawal of the CPE seems to have been reduced to the role of the catalyst of the movement, rather than its only goal, showing that the movement is more about the malaise in French society than simply one bad law. At this point, it appears more and more just to claim that the only victorious outcome of this struggle is the stepping down of the MEDEF-government and the dissolution of the National Assembly. Any other result would imply a waste of what has shown itself to be the greatest mass mobilisation since 1968.
Finally, the crisis within the UMP and its government is becoming more and more obvious. As we know, the bourgeoisie seldom (really never) shows any solidarity with its representatives once these make mistakes and discredit themselves in the eyes of the masses. Sarkozy is trying to distance himself from de Villepin in his declarations regarding the CPE, whilst at the same time attempting to use the phenomenon of the casseurs as an excuse to attack the current movement of workers, youth, and students.
Against the bosses and Villepin’s arrogance
For a 24 hour General Strike!
For the dissolution of the National Assembly!
- March 28th 2006: French workers and youth mobilise on a scale never seen since 1968 by Greg Oxley (March 28, 2006)
- France - Faced with the intransigence of the government: for immediate presidential and legislative elections! (March 28, 2006)
- Mass protests and strikes in France: the dawning of a new era by Greg Oxley (March 21, 2006)
- Audio interview with Greg Oxley on the protests in France (March 20, 2006)
- French workers and youth unite against the First Employment Contract: No to all precarious contracts by Mikael Duthu (March 16, 2006)
- The revolt of the French estates by Greg Oxley (November 8, 2006)