French protests say ‘Hands off our pensions’!

By Nat London
December 23, 2019
AP/Daniel Cole

PARIS — Unionists and other working people across France carried out a one-day strike Dec. 5 and mounted sizable demonstrations in defense of their pensions. The actions were centered among public service sector workers in transportation, schools and public hospitals.

The mobilizations were called after French President Emmanuel Macron, well known for his arrogant and demeaning attitude toward workers and their rights, announced government moves to revise the pension system. The “reform” would mean a serious decrease in benefits for many workers, raise the age to get maximum benefits and threaten early retirement in rail and public transportation.

Macron’s meritocratic government has sought to impose a series of anti-working-class measures, sparking last year’s mass yellow vest protests and now this nationwide strike.

Close to a million people demonstrated nationally, including in Marseille, above. The strike closed down 90% of rail traffic, 11 out of 16 Paris subway lines and 20% of passenger flights. Public schools were closed.

Rail and public transportation unions said their strike would continue. Some teachers also continued their strike.

A second one-day strike and series of demonstrations has been called by almost all the union federations for Dec. 10.

France’s capitalist rulers are determined to strengthen their position against U.S. competitors and in the EU.