On Thursday, February 4, major trade unions in France organized a national strike and country-wide mobilizations in defense of employment, rights and public services during this period of the pandemic. In Paris, the protesters marched from Place de la République to Place de la Nation. The call for the mobilization was given by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU), Solidaires, National Union of Students of France (UNEF), UNL, MNL and FIDL, among other unions. Mobilizations took place in more than 100 places, including Nantes, Marseilles and Rennes.
The protesters denounced the insensitivity of Emmanuel Macron’s government towards the millions of the workers who have suffered severe setbacks due to the COVID-19 crisis. The workers said the government had neglected the working class in its stimulus package announced in September last year, and during the initial months of lockdown. They reasserted their demand to increase the wages of healthcare workers, teachers, civil servants etc. They also expressed their dissatisfaction over the meager increase in minimum wages announced by the Minister of Labor which is below 1% for 2021 i.e. The increase in wages is from 10.15 Euros (USD 12.15) to 10.25 Euros(USD 12.27) and hour.
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) stated that “The year 2020 [was] marked by the pandemic and its health, economic and social consequences. These are compounded by disastrous government decisions for workers and youth. The stimulus plan of the government is in no way a plan to break with the policies of job losses, pressure on wages and working conditions and weakening social protection. It plunges a large part of the population and especially the youth in precariousness and poverty.”
CGT pointed out that 47% of young people in France are worried about their jobs and the youth unemployment rate has exceeded 20%. “The winners are always the same and the companies least affected by the crisis will be those who will benefit the most from the tax cuts,” added CGT.
The French Communist Party (PCF) and the Young Communist Movement of France (MJCF) expressed solidarity with mobilizations. The PCF demanded that the government end layoffs and relocation of industries, ensure more recruitment, increase wages and pensions, and invest more in public transport and in the modernization of industry.
Last month, the health workers (January 21), teachers (January 26) and workers in the energy sector (January 28) had organized mobilizations across France demanding more resources, rights and safer work conditions.