France

International struggles

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:13

In Italy, workers’ stoppages of production in major factories, Arcelor Mittal, Fiat-Chrysler, Fincantieri, Maserati, Yamaha, Ducati, among others, about inadequate safeguards against infection within factories, pushed three trade union confederations — CGIL, CISL, and UIL — to get a joint protocol with government and employers on 14 March about minimum standards. The agreement has been criticised by grassroots activists as too soft. — Francesco Pontarelli on Global Labour Column

Amazon in France

After French Amazon workers threaten to use the equivalent in French law of Section 44 of the

Michel Lequenne, 1921-2020

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 10:32
Author

Martin Thomas

“The last Trotskyist” — so Michel Lequenne, who died on 13 February 2020 aged 98, sometimes described himself, according to a tribute by Antoine Artous and Francis Sitel.

Arguably he was indeed the last surviving Orthodox Trotskyist with an unbroken political thread from the early 1940s. There are other Orthodox Trotskyists — the more-or-less theory-free network around Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party, the “Morenist” diaspora, those post-Mandelites who still call themselves “Trotskyist” — but they scarcely attempt to offer a systematically-developed ideological tradition.

In the introduction to

Marxists and “left governments”

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:21
Author

Sacha Ismail

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit

France’s pension strikes still alive

Published on: Wed, 12/02/2020 - 12:19
Author

Joséphine Simplon

The strike action renewed every day at SNCF (national rail) and RATP (Paris local transport) is over, but that doesn’t mean that the battle against the government’s Bill is at an end.

On the contrary. Not a day passes without one sector or another making itself heard with never-before-seen actions. The strike is still alive, whether it be:

• the strike of the firefighters who demonstrated on 28 January
• the strike of the street cleaners and refuse workers in Ile-de-France or Marseille, who have been on strike for more than a week
• the strike of the energy workers who have organised a series

What France teaches us

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 11:40
Author

Rachael Baylis

My decision to go on the delegation to France organised by AWL on 25-26 January had its roots in what happened on 12 December.

As a Labour activist and socialist for two years, I had a flame of hope that a left-wing government could triumph. As we all know, it didn’t. Facing an 80-seat Tory majority which will destroy communities, workers rights and environmental protections the question became — what next?

The possibility for resistance still exists and always will, so when I saw the opportunity to go and learn from the French strikes in Paris, I jumped. The only way we can resist the

Johnson’s anti-strike plans: lessons from France

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 11:25
Author

Michael Elms

The experience of French workers can help workers in the UK think about how to fight Boris Johnson’s anti-strike plans.

In early December 2019, Boris Johnson vowed to put yet more obstacles in place to stop transport workers striking. Speaking at a campaign rally, he said: “I do think it’s absurd that critical transport mass-transit systems should be capable of being put out of actions by strikes, and other countries around the world have minimum service requirements for public transport – and that’s what I want to see.”

The phrase “minimum service” was made famous when the then-French

Students and the pensions movement in France

Published on: Mon, 03/02/2020 - 18:46
Author

David (L'Etincelle)

David from L'Etincelle, a grouping within the NPA (Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste, New Anticapitalist Party), talked with Michael Elms from Solidarity.


In 2018 there was a movement about selection. In 2019 they increased fees for students outside the EU by like 1,000%. There was a small movement concerning that: but it was at the same time as the Yellow Vests movement, and it didn’t really get going.

The Yellow Vests movement had an effect among some poor students, it was very strong among students for a couple of weeks, but things didn’t go much further than that.


What’s the story with

AWL delegation visits Paris

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2020 - 12:27
Author

Michael Elms

Since early December, France has been gripped by a mass strike movement over the Macron government’s plan to reform pensions.

Workers’ Liberty organised a delegation of socialists of all ages from across the UK to visit France 24-26 January to bring our solidarity to strikers, and to talk to and learn from striking workers and socialist activists about events.

By the time that we arrived in France, the movement was entering a new stage. After nearly 50 days of almost-uninterrupted strike action, transport workers were scaling back their action from an all-out strike every day to a series of

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