France

French workers on streets

French workers have come out on the streets again as the virus emergency eases there. On Tuesday 16 June, 18,000 health workers demonstrated in Paris and many thousands in other cities. They were demanding a pay rise of €300 a month for low-waged health workers, increased staffing, and a moratorium on bed closures. They are calling for action from president Emmanuel Macron on his promise, made during the emergency, of a great renovation of French health care. Macron has also promised a referendum to amend France’s constitution by inserting a reference to ecological values, but is fending off...

France's step beyond

Three of France’s trade-union confederations — CGT, FSU, and Solidaires — have (26 May) got together with Greenpeace, ATTAC (the Tobin Tax campaign), and others to produce an “exit plan from the crisis”: see here. It includes: • “requisitioning of factories and businesses to produce masks and medical supplies” • “re-establishing individual and collective liberties to move around, to meet, and to protest” • restoration of trade-union rep access to workers, sometimes suspended on grounds of virus emergency • “reducing drastically” the numbers in prison • “a standard work week of 32 hours...

Fallback pay for all

30 million workers in the USA have applied for unemployment benefit since March. 35 million workers are on government-funded furlough schemes in Europe (10 million in Germany, 11.3 million in France). 1.8 million have applied for Universal Credit in Britain, and 700,000 have got advance payments. Signals are also increasing of a new wave of job cuts as the lockdowns ease and creditors start chasing debts.

French workers occupy to demand oxygen production

Until 2019, the British firm Luxfer Holdings PLC owned and ran an oxygen cylinder factory in Gerzat in northern France. In May 2019, production ceased. In January 2020, construction teams arrived at the site, only to find it occupied by former workers demanding its nationalisation. That occupation lasted until 19 March. This plant can produce 950 oxygen cylinders a day, which would be very useful to many sorely-afflicted sufferers of Covid-19. The owners of the plant refuse to reopen it for production. French President Emmanuel Macron might have declared in a speech that “this pandemic reveals...

Requisition and workers' control to get tests and PPE

In the Thursday 8pm “clapping for the NHS” on 2 April 2020, many people chanted “Test! Test! Test! PPE!” Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers. So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April: “There are still trusts that are unable to begin testing, and lack of swabs, reagents and test kits is a continuing concern”. They...

Work or full pay!

As of 1 April, 950,000 new people had applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks. Usually new applications run at about 100,000 a week. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people have lost their jobs because they were on casual contracts, and because they worked for businesses which have laid them off or simply shut down. Many small employers have laid off workers, but also big ones, like universities. Many who are self-employed — really self-employed, or formally self-employed while really being wage-workers — are not able to use the government’s scheme for aid to the self-employed, or...

La France Insoumise and Covid-19

After agreeing with the government to "leave the controversies for later", Jean-Luc MĂ©lenchon and the MPs of La France Insoumise have spoken. On a live LCI broadcast on Monday 30 March, the head of LFI opined that "the time has come to ban posted worker contracts, to repatriate posted workers by putting in the papers, or to keep them here and treat them properly", because "in France lorries are still coming in from a series of countries where there is no containment and which can therefore these lorries and be vectors for disseminating the virus". LFI's answer to the virus: foreign workers go...

Two communiques from France

Photo by Fran Boloni on Unsplash We reproduce the Ile-de-France union regions (URIF) communiqué of March 23, 2020; and the declaration issued by the national coordination of strikers of 28 March. Document 1 (23 March) A common position along these lines should be taken at the national level. Cross-union unity shouldn't be dissolved in the state of emergency Communiqué of URIFS CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, UNL The trade union regional bodies of Ile-de-France (URIF) of the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, with [student unons] UNEF and UNL, reject the law declaring a "state of health emergency...

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