France

The announcement of 2,900 job cuts by Air France management fell like a thunderbolt on employees. Over the past decade they have already made many sacrifices in terms of pay and working conditions. Many positions have already been cut: the company's workforce decreased from 65,000 in 2004 to 52,500 today. The frustrations of many employees  have now started to bubble over, as shown in the video below.

Muslims in France were the first "collateral victims" of the killings of last January 7-9 in Paris. Anti-muslim propaganda has been a constant theme in the media and in the political discourse in France. Of course by attacking the Muslims they really mean Africans who are the real objective of their attacks. But since the January events, media sensationalism and racist acts have skyrocketed. These constant attacks against one section of the workers of our country must be challenged by the entire labour movement.

Over the weekend several million people took part in demonstrations in Paris and many provincial cities of France. The government and the whole official establishment had called for the demonstrations and announced their participation. On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, declared that the people had rallied “behind President” François Hollande.

As I write these lines the drama in France has just been brought to a bloody climax ending in the death of the two men who killed the staff of Charlie Hebdo. This denouement was as inevitable as the ending of a Greek tragedy. There was no realistic prospect of any other. Three days of high drama that captured the attention of the world have ended with twenty dead, a further unknown number of wounded and a nation in a state of trauma.

The terrorist attack against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has caused a huge wave of anger and indignation throughout the country. In the evening after the attack over a hundred thousand people took to the streets of many cities. The revulsion aroused amongst the masses by this brutal terrorist act has been exacerbated by the fact that many of the victims were very popular and held in high regard.

In the recent municipal elections in France the right wing did well, mainly at the expense of the Socialist Party which pays a heavy price for carrying out draconian austerity measures at national level. Unfortunately, in many towns the Front de Gauche (Left Front) split, with the Communist Party forming an alliance with the Socialist Party, and the Parti de Gauche (Left Party) presenting joint lists with the Greens.

Nearly five years after it was formed, the Left Front [Front de Gauche] is passing through a turbulent period. In a number of cities – and not minor ones at that – the French Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche, PG) have decided not to stand joint lists in the first round in the March 2014 council elections.

Francis Smaïl is a CGT shop steward – délégué du personnel – at Air France at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, near Paris. The history of the persecution he has suffered over many years cannot be told here. But we want to bring most recent developments to the attention of workers, both in France and internationally.

On 5 May, more than 100 000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Paris in answer to a call from the Left Front, around the demand for a “Sixth Republic”. The Left Front is essentially an alliance between the Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Party (Parti de Gauche), led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The attendance shows the capacity of the Left Front to mobilise massive support, as it did on an even more impressive scale during the presidential elections one year ago.

Below we publish an interview with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the left wing formation Front Gauche in France . Jean-Luc Mélenchon participated in the French presidential electionsearlier this year and received 11,1% of the vote. For more material on Mélenchon please read the following articles (Mélenchon as candidate of the Left Front – What campaign, on what programme? andMassive support for

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Since François Hollande came to power in May, unemployment figures have increased every single month. They have now gone over the 3 million mark. If we add those people who are surviving on a few hours work but who are registered as looking for a steady job, these official figures rise to 4.5 million. It is estimated that another 1 million people are out of work but, not being entitled to benefits, they are not registered at all.

The defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy in the presidential elections opens a new phase of the class struggle in France. The socialist candidate, François Hollande, won 51.62 % of the vote. However, this overall score tends to conceal the social basis of the election result. Practically all the major towns and cities voted massively for Hollande – or, to be closer to the truth, to get rid of Sarkozy.

The results of the first round of the presidential elections in France mean that the second round will be fought out between Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Party candidate, François Hollande. Opinion polls consistently suggest that Hollande is most likely to win, although the very high score obtained by the Front National candidate in the first round, indicate that Sarkozy still has considerable reserves to draw upon for the second round. The main advantage Sarkozy has, apart from his own pugnacious and combative attitude, is the pro-capitalist character of the Socialist Party programme, which could lead to a demobilisation of left voters.

The most striking feature of the presidential election campaign in France is the massive support shown for the Front de Gauche (Left Front) under the leadership of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Long before the campaign was really underway, there were clear signs that the most conscious and active layer of the working class was mobilising around the Front de Gauche.

As in all other European countries, the Sarkozy government in France is applying a vicious policy of “austerity”. The workers – and also the middle classes – are to suffer further cuts in their standard of living in order to maintain and increase capitalist profits. In these years of crisis, French banks doubled their profits from 5.5 to 11 billion euros in 2009, and almost doubled them again to 21 billion in 2010.