On 26 May, the mass mobilisations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s anti-social reforms continued, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets in demonstrations billed as a “popular tide”.
Macron wants to cut jobs on the rails, close rural branch lines, break up the state rail company and make it easier for employers in the transport sector to hire workers on insecure, low-paid contracts. These reforms come alongside a raft of other attacks, on education and health in particular.
The demonstrations came on the back of an internal referendum conducted in the state railway company, the SNCF, by trade unions. Of 150,000 employees, 90,000 voted in the referendum, with 95% voting to reject Macron’s reforms. Laurent Brun, the general secretary of the CGT-rail union, explained the meaning of the referendum, saying: “The management says that ‘since three quarters of the railway workers are not on strike, three quarters of the workers support the reforms…’ In my opinion, the response will be overwhelming, but we will see.”
Currently the French unions are organising two days of strikes across transport and other public services in every five. The next big national demonstration has been called for 2 June.