France

"I don't want to lie to myself anymore. I don't want to create the illusion that my presence in the government means we're up to the challenges, and so I've decided to quit the government." With those words, France's environment minister Nicolas Hulot announced during a live radio interview that, after 15 months in the role, he was parting company with President Emmanuel Macron.

Tiziri Kandi is an officer with the hotel workers’ branch of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) – a major confederation of French trade unions. Following the 111-day Clichy Holiday Inn strike in Paris, she spoke with Joe Hayns about the strike, outsourcing, and the limitations faced by railway workers in their struggle against President Emmanuel Macron’s attack on the state-owned railway operator, SNCF.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the dramatic May-June 1968 upsurge in struggle by workers and students in France. The effects of this turbulent period, writes Stanley Blair, were felt around the world — and for years to come in France.

1968 was one of those extraordinary years when millions of people were involved in trying to change the world for the better. Hall Greenland writes that the year's most compelling events took place in May and June on the streets of France.

The world was shaken by an unprecedented wave of protests and rebellions against imperialism, racism, social injustice and the lack of real democracy. 1968 has been compared to 1848 because of the sheer number of countries shaken to their foundations.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of France to demonstrate against President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms on May 27. "In the name of the poor, the humiliated, the homeless and the jobless, we are telling you, 'Enough, enough of this world'," leader of the left-wing France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said.

French police and protesters clashed in Paris on May 22 after unions — angered by years of public-sector pay cuts and President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms — urged state employees to stop work and join nationwide street protests.

Riot police charged at protesters with batons in central Paris, firing stun grenades and tear gas. Police said 20 demonstrators were arrested.

The demonstration was called by the large labour unions plus many smaller ones, and involved the organisation of street rallies in about 140 cities, towns and villages across France.

Strikes, protests and occupations are breaking out everywhere. Sam Wainwright writes that resistance to French president Emmanuel Macron’s austerity plans is gathering pace and its development will determine the future of the country.

Macron and his big business patrons complain that France has failed to “modernise” like Britain did during Margaret Thatcher’s reign. A key turning point that explains why the French working class has been able to slow this process was the huge social movement and strike wave of 1995, in which millions of people took to the streets. 

Mireille Knoll was brutally murdered in her Paris apartment on March 23. She was 85 years old with a disability and a Holocaust survivor. Police suspect anti-Semitism may have motivated the attack upon her; all prompting an emotional outpouring.

On the 50th anniversary of the huge May-June 1968 strive wave that brought France to the brink of revolution, workers are still fighting for their rights. This was seen clearly with the rail strikes that crippled France on April 3.

Tens of thousands of public sector workers and students, led by the National Society of French Railways’ (SNCF) staff, went on strike to protest a series of attacks on workers’ rights proposed by President Emmanuel Macron.

France is once again on the brink of an all-out industrial war — and its outcome could transform the country’s political landscape.

Pages

Subscribe to France