FRANCE: Historic Mobilization Against Pension Reforms, 1.5 million demonstrators!

The following is an unofficial translation of the article “Mobilisation historique contre la réforme des retraites : 1,5 millions de manifestants!” originally published December 5 from revolutionary French newspaper La Cause du Peuple. Bracketed text are our own clarifications.

Translation by Kate LaBelle

This Thursday, December 5, was marked in the heart of the French state by the first big day of strikes and demonstrations against the infamous project of pension reform, which the Macron government wishes to put into action.

The strike had been planned since more than two months by the RATP [a state owned public transportation operations company], but what actually occurred was a beautiful interprofessional strike: the Paris metro network was paralyzed, train traffic as well, seven refineries were on strike, ports and docks were at a standstill, taxi drivers organized road blocking operations, more than half of teachers were on strike and a number of schools were closed, the garbage collectors were on strike in Marseille and Montpellier, the electricians and gas workers of the EDF [electric utility company, largely state-owned] and Engie [French multinational utility company] were on strike, and in many other sectors, demonstrations took place.

This day of striking is historic because of its breadth. For a first day of a movement, it is the first time in decades that a strike has been so strong and the demonstrators so numerous. According to the trade unions, there were 1.5 million people participating throughout the French state, and specifically 250,000 in Paris; 35,000 in Lyon; 40,000 in Bordeaux; 30,000 in Nantes; 22,000 in Saint-Etienne and another 10,000 in Tours.

To make a comparison, during the first day of striking and demonstration against the work laws in 2016, there were 500,000 demonstrators according to the trade unions.

Of course, the strikers have known since the beginning of this day of striking that a single day would be insufficient to cause the government to step back, which is why the strike will take place again this Friday (December 6) in a number of sectors, notably in the national education sector, in the SNCF [state-owned railway company] and the RATP. The trade unions are already preparing, and there will be more demonstrations soon in the coming days, and probably on December 10. Until then.