French protest against youth wage cuts

Issue 

French protest against youth wage cuts

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Paris and other major French cities on Saturday, March 12, against government plans to abolish the minimum youth "wage". This minimum, about A$400 per month, is paid to long-term unemployed youth.

The abolition plan put forward by the right-wing Balladur government, elected in May 1993, would impoverish tens of thousands of school leavers unable to get jobs.

The demonstration was organised by the CGT trade union federation, in which the Communist Party is a major force. It culminated a week of protests during which nightly street battles took place between cops and unemployed and black youth in the bleak northern Paris suburbs.

During the demonstration, groups of angry youth trashed up-market shops and cafes in the Montparnasse district on the Paris Left Bank.

Because of inter-union rivalry, the March 12 protests were boycotted by the more right-wing union federations. However, a united demonstration, supported by student unions as well as workers' organisations, was being planned for 17 March.