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Grip Of Protest Tightening In France

  • October 17th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

france-strike.jpegSocial confrontation  throughout France has taken on an increasingly  serious aspect since the first of the current series of trade union rallies brought out a million protestors on Tuesday  — with another huge turn-out at a follow-up event in Paris at the weekend (16.10.10).

Strike activity has affected transport and energy services, and has started to put a strain on fuel stocks, with workers at the country’s 13 oil refineries closing them all down.

In scenes a little reminiscent of the conflicts of May 1968, riot police were sent in to reopen three  of the refineries, and students at hundreds of high schools throwing stones, in some pitched battles with police.  Those confrontations follow on from recurrent rioting involving mostly immigrant youth in outer suburbs, which have expanded since serious outbreaks in 2005.

The chain of protests is presenting a wild backdrop to debates in the Senate, in Paris, on the object of the strikes – a new law raising the retirement   from 60 to 62, and the age for receipt of a full state pension from 65 to 67.

The pension  measures form part of an austerity budget strategy being enforced by President Nicolas Sarkozy in the face of public opinions trending heavily against him.

Another rally is being planned for this Tuesday, and union leaders say they have gained confidence day by day, because of more people turning out in support.

They are demanding that the government suspend its legislation process and enter into negotiations.

“The government is betting on this movement deteriorating, even breaking down”, said Bernard Thibault, head of the communist-based union confederation, the CGT.

“ I think we have the means to disappoint them.”


Le Monde, Paris: La mobilisation lycéenne ne faiblit pas, (high school studnets’ protests not weakening); Toutes les raffineries de France en grève, (all the french oil refineries out on strike); Les routiers prêts à rejoindre la contestation, (truckies ready to get back into the fight), 16.10.10. www.lemonde,fr, (17.10.10).

CFDT, Confederation Francaise Democratique du Travail, home,, (17.10.10).

La CGT, Confederation Generale du Travail, home, Paris, 16.10.10., (17.10.10).

Henry Samuel (Daily Telegraph), “Sarkozy sends in riot police as strikers cut off airport fuel supply”, Montreal Gazette, Quebec, 15.10.10., (17.10.10)., “World News: Retirement age strikes hobble France”, 16.10.10., (17.10.10).