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6 February 2019

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France gilets jaunes' backed by mass strike action

Gilets jaunes flood the historic Champs-Élysées in Paris in scenes reminiscent of the May 1968 general strike, photo Kris Aus67/CC, photo Kris Aus67/CC

Gilets jaunes flood the historic Champs-Élysées in Paris in scenes reminiscent of the May 1968 general strike, photo Kris Aus67/CC, photo Kris Aus67/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) movement in France is by no means over. Saturday 2 February saw 'Act 13' of the series of weekend demonstrations, swelled by anger at the blinding by rubber bullets of gilets jaunes protesters including a prominent member of the movement, Jerome Rodrigues.

The 'great debate' around France, launched by the hated President Macron, has been a damp squib especially as he himself ruled out discussion of reintroducing a wealth tax.

"At the beginning of this new year," writes Leila Massaoudi of Gauche Révolutionnaire, the Socialist Party's sister party in France, "movements have been launched on the same model as the 'yellow vests' on the internet or on the streets. Discontented lawyers, the 'red pens' movement in education and the 'pink vest' childminders."

There have been a number of initiatives. These include an "assembly of local assemblies" in Commercy, eastern France; the launching of two lists for the European elections; the idea of a national referendum; and talk of a gilets jaunes political party.

Tuesday 5 February was a major day of demonstrations and strikes in Paris and across France, called by the main trade unions, including the CGT federation, supporting the demands of the gilets jaunes. More details will follow in coming issues of the Socialist.

The gilets jaunes have enthusiastically greeted the entry into the fray of the organised working class.

Some of the smaller rank-and-file unions are in favour of continuing the strikes indefinitely. This is unlikely at this stage, but cannot be ruled out if the huge anger that exists in French society is not quelled. Gauche Révolutionnaire stresses the need to discuss widely - in the unions, in our social and political organisations, and in the left - the case for a determined struggle. For wage increases, the indexation of prices, and also nationalisation of major industries under the democratic control and management of workers and service users.

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In The Socialist 6 February 2019:


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Article dated 6 February 2019

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