Tuesday, October 04, 2005

French workers take to the streets in nationwide strike

Hundreds of thousands of workers across France have taken to the streets in demonstrations and as part of the nationwide strike action on Tuesday to protest the government's anti-labor policies, declining job security and the rising cost of living.

Many flights through Paris airports were canceled.

Schools closed as almost 230,000 teachers stayed home, the Education Ministry said.

All Paris stations were disrupted. In Marseilles and Lyon, buses and Metro trains were said to have ground virtually to a halt. In Toulouse, pickets at two major bus stations prevented any buses from running, CNN reported.

Many commuters at Paris' Saint-Lazare station, arriving on packed trains from the suburbs, said despite the inconvenience they supported the one-day walkout to defend jobs, salaries and labor rights. Unions are especially angry about anti-labor laws passed by the government in August, which make it easier for small companies to hire and fire workers.

Strikers organized demonstrations across France. The CGT union estimated their total number at more than 1 million with Paris alone attracting 150,000 people.

In Corsica, where government plans to privatize the state SNCM ferry firm have been facing weeks of unrest, a group of protesters clashed with riot police. No injuries were reported.

A poll conducted regarding the strike showed broad support for the strike. Seventy-two percent of respondents said it was justified.

That the call has been explicitly for a one-day strike suggests to many familiar with French politics that the labor union bureaucrats have decided to go along with Villepin's anti-labor policies. It is customary for the labor bureaucrats to call these one-day nationwide actions in order to release some of the pressure from the rank-and-file workers.

Revolutionary communists call for an indefinite general strike!

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