French youth and workers in revolt

The French workers and students have taken to the streets in a wave of militant demonstrations and strikes to try to halt the passing of a bill in the French Parliament to cut pensions. Three million workers have marched and struck in protest, but since oil workers and truck drivers joined the strike the crisis has escalated. Much of France is now running short on fuel. Inspiringly tens of thousands of high school students have joined the protests blockading and shutting their own schools and clashing violently with police.

Related: France's Youth in Revolt -- World Socialist Web analysis -- Paris Indymedia -- Updates from the Guardian

Whilst the French Trade Unions hope to keep control of the demonstrations and shut them down after the bill has passed both the union bureaucrats and the politicians are aware that events could escalate into a full scale rebellion such as occurred in 1968. This has been the most militant and widespread of the wave of protests across Europe that have occurred as the financial and corporate sector demands that the debt arising from the Global Financial Crisis is paid back by ordinary people and not the rich. Opinion polls are showing that currently over 70% of the French public support the strikes. It would be very hard to imagine a similar wave of strikes in Australia where the Union movement has been so weakened and co-opted that it barely has a pulse in terms of industrial strength.


An estimated 3.5 million workers and students marched nationwide in France yesterday in a day of action called to oppose pension cuts demanded by President Nicolas Sarkozy. Though the most critical provisions of the pension “reform” have been passed—a two-year increase in the retirement age and a corresponding increase in the pay-in period—the law has yet to be formally voted on by the Senate.