Yesterday, Tuesday November 20, over 700 000 people took to the streets of France. There were civil servants, nurses, postal workers, teachers, students; all came out in support of the railway workers.
The transport strike continues. As well as it is going, the movement must take some external factors into account;
many more industries need to join in order to break out of the envelope of isolation
there is a terrible media campaign that accuses the railway and bus workers of "taking passengers hostage". Last Sunday there was a demonstration organized by the political right to "denounce the dictatorship of the strikers".
union bosses are negotiating. CFDT (a moderate and "responsible") union have been calling for an end to the strike since more than a week ago. The CGT (close to the "Communist" Party) is sounding a different note. Its boss (Thibault) is calling for an end to the movement, while its transport section and its grassroots continue to strike. The conflict between "responsible" union bosses and radical rank and file has come to the point where the bosses of both CGT (Thibault) and CFDT (Chereque) were ejected from a demonstration in Paris by angry members of their own unions. Wednesday’s negotiations will be crucial; we will see how the strikers react to what union bureaucrats put on offer.
More than 60 campuses have been taken over in a militant way. There are strong tensions between strikers and scabs (under strong police protection). The nation students’ coordination committee meets every week. Last week it met in Tours, at the centre of France, next week it will meet in Lille, in the country’s north. Two currents are confronting each other. There is the militant current composed of JCR, CNT-FAU, SUD Students that is trying to enlarge the movement by connecting with the other sectors of society that are on strike. Against them stand the pseudo-socialist UNEF that is playing for time.
The picture is mixed in primary and secondary education. The are schools where nothing is happening, in others the teachers are on strike, in still others they have called renewable strikes. City wide teachers’ meetings are being established to coordinate and expand the strike at the municipal level. Striking teachers have joined the strike meetings of railway workers in some places.
The strike of 2003 against pension reform has left its marks in the schools. After a massive two month strike, teachers were defeated. That makes some teachers think that walking off the job is a waste of time.
So far, mobilisation has been relatively weak in energy, postal and hospital industries.
The CNT is doing its best, together with other militant groups such as LCR, LO and SUD, to start the indispensable general strike. A movement that goes beyond a one day strike like yesterday’s. It will take more than that get our demands accepted.
The next milestones will be; a students’ demonstration on Thursday, and a multi-industry demonstration with teachers, students, railway workers next Tuesday.
The struggle continues.