Lisbeth Latham

French workers and students are set to hold a new national mobilisation against the “El Khomri” labour law, which undermines workers’ rights.

The protest is the 14th national mobilisation in the campaign against the law this year — but the first since the law was forced through parliament without a vote and since France's summer holidays.

Since the announcement of an ordinance banning the wearing of burkinis on the beaches of the French Mediterranean city of Cannes in late July, France has been swept up in a new wave of Islamophobia.

A further 17 municipalities have announced their own ordinances banning the burkini — the full-body swimsuit worn by some Islamic women. These bans have been endorsed not only by France’s far right, but by the Socialist Party Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The Victorian government announced new legislation on August 18 aimed at simplifying the process for trans and gender diverse (TGD) people’s to change the sex marker on their birth certificates and records. This has rightfully been welcomed as an important step forward for TGD people rights.

The new legislation, which follows similar legislation in the ACT and 2013 changes to policies regarding sex markers on Commonwealth documents, is a start towards eliminating medical gatekeeping on the lives of TGD people.

President Nicolas Sarkozy enacted a new law on November 10 that increases the retirement age of French workers. The move came just days after more than a million workers and students mobilised across France against the law.

The November 6 protests were the eighth national strike and protests since September 7 against the bill — although it was the easily the smallest of the mobilisations.

French workers and students have mobilised in large numbers again to oppose changes in pension laws that will raise the age at which workers are able to retire.

The seventh national strike in as many weeks took place on October 28, as indefinite strikes in many industries against the changes entered their third week.

The protests took place despite the government’s pension bill passing through France’s parliament on October 27.

Since October 12, France has been gripped by intensifying mass opposition by workers and students to proposed counter reforms to the country’s pensions system by the right-wing government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Public opposition to the attack has been highlighted by three national strikes each involving millions of people, two national student strikes and a growing wave of indefinite strikes in a range of industries — most notably the crippling shutdown of the oil industry.

More than three million people took part in strikes and protests across France on September 23. They were demanding the withdrawal of laws that will dramatically reduce the right of workers to access pensions. The protests, which had been called by a coalition of seven of France’s union confederations, showed that the passage of the Pension Bill through France’s lower house of parliament had done nothing to weaken opposition to the attack on pensions.

Tens of thousands of people joined counter-protests against far-right marches across Germany on May 1. Sozialistische Alternative website said in Berlin, 15,000 people blockaded the Prenzlauer Berg district, restricting a march by 400 neo-Nazis to just 350 metres of their intended six-kilometre march route.

More than 150,000 people joined protests in France on June 13 against plans by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government to make working people carry the costs of the global economic crisis.

On March 30, France’s eight union confederations issued a joint statement announcing they would organise a general strike on May Day.

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