WIN Special Report: Hundreds of Thousands In France Protest Macron’s Anti-Worker Agenda
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets of France on Thursday and Saturday to oppose new French president Emmanuel Macron’s dismantling of the French labor code and cuts to the social welfare system, as well as tax changes that favor the rich.
Workers Independent News Executive Director Frank Emspak reports from Paris:
[Frank Emspak]: Saturday a sea of people are here in the Place de Bastille. Streets are packed with young and old. Organizers invited all who oppose French president Emmanuel Macron’s dismantling of the French labor code and cuts in social programs to come out.
Macron is moving toward a US style system of labor law where sectorial bargaining is diminished and location by location bargaining is increased. It will be much more difficult for unions to maintain standards of wages and working conditions. Plants will be competing against each other to maintain employment. The anti-Macron forces are presenting a deep political challenge to the French President. Saturday’s demonstration was a show of broad political unity against the government. Next week, workers in various sectors of the economy will strike.
As one demonstrator told me:
[French Demonstrator]: “We really don’t want it. We didn’t want it when it was President Hollande and we still don’t want it with President Macron. This is why we are here.”
[Frank Emspak]: One hundred fifty thousand heeded the call to say “no” to the dismantling of labor protections and “no” what they call the social coup d’état, a reference to President Macron’s decision to rule by decree:
[French Demonstrator]: “It means that today the government wants to destroy every conquest of the working class: school, hospital, social security, retirement and the working code. And we want to protect all of our conquests from the big movements in 1936, 1945. It’s a question of everday life.”
[Frank Emspak]: The main slogan is France Insoumise meaning France undefeated carrying with it the idea of France rising up.
One thing is clear: the presidency will fall or rise on this confrontation. Macron shows no interest in backing down accusing his opposition of being slackers, extremists and backward looking. Hundreds of thousands of French citizens have a different view.
Frank Emspak, Paris, France.