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(en) Class War Escalates in France

From cercle social <cerclesocial@altern.org>
Date Sat, 14 Jun 2003 11:48:50 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> A good resum of class struggle in France, we received on Indy Lille :
The social movement against the French government's planned pension reforms
has been escalating since it began in May of 2003. Hundreds of thousands of
workers took part in two general strikes and massive demonstrations
throughout the month to oppose reforms that will force people to work longer
to receive full pensions.

On Tuesday, June 3, about 5,000 people in Calais marched to the A26 highway
and were brutally attacked by riot police with batons and tear gas.

On Thursday, June 5, the regional office of the employers' federation MEDEF
in the port of La Rochelle was set on fire and several other MEDEF offices
across the country were attacked. On Friday, June 6, striking workers
disrupted train and bus service in Marseille and Paris. Demonstrators cut
power lines at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, halting trains for
hours. Striking bus workers and supporters blockaded a bus depot in the
northern suburbs of Paris, armed themselves with baseball bats and fought
with riot police. Sanitation workers in Lyon dumped garbage in front of City
Hall. Striking teachers also occupied bus depots and train tracks.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris on Tuesday, June 10, as
France was hit with its third general strike since the beginning of May.
Clashes with the police broke out in front of the National Assembly, while
politicians discussed the reforms inside. Striking workers and a contingent
of about 100 anarchists fought back against baton charges, tear gas and
water cannon attacks by tearing up cobblestones and throwing them at the
riot police. Barricades were built in the streets and set on fire, as police
drove the demonstrators back. About 350 people escaped into an opera
building, only to be attacked again by riot cops. 60 people were arrested.
Societe Generale economist Olivier Gasnier commented on the day's events by
saying "The radicalization of the strikes, the images of violence like those
seen on Tuesday evening in Paris could disturb consumers' peace of mind."
The strikes have cost the French economy hundreds of millions of dollars and
are frightening away investors.

In Lille workers set fire to the Coventry factory and took packages of
detergent to the demonstration downtown where tens of thousands were
marching through the streets. Strikers threw the packages of detergent at
riot police for an hour, giving the filthy pigs a good wash. Police then
fired tear gas, charged the demonstrators and beat some of them with batons.
At 5 :00 am in the morning hundreds of dock workers, railway workers and
fish merchants set up blockades at the port in Boulogne sur Mer, set them on
fire and defended them against riot police tear gas attacks until 4 :00 am
the next day.
In Nice workers occupied the National Theatre of Nice, produced leaflets
explaining their action and used the space to hold meetings concerning the
social struggle.

Demonstrations also took place in Marseille, Rouen and Nantes.

On Wednesday, June 11, 200 people took over and occupied the Town Hall in
Toulouse and closed the doors to the police.
The next day, Thursday, June 12, the National Opera of Lyon was occupied by
200 people and the space was used to hold assemblies and plan future
actions. Another action targeted the Path Cinema in Lyon, forcing it to
shut down for the day.
In Lille three major highways were blocked by groups of 300 students,
workers and unemployed people. A spontaneous demonstration of more than
1,000 people marched through the streets of the city, as people blocked the
doors of businesses and government offices with trash bins and attempted to
push through riot police lines. The office of the Union of the Presidential
Majority (UMP) was trashed as workers dumped garbage, water and detergent
inside the buildings.

Demonstrators chanted, "UMP state ! Police state !"
Major road blockades were also set up in Toulouse, Avignon, Paris, Bastia,
Perpignan, Toulon and Marseilles.
Another general strike has been called for June 19. The social war continues
as direct action and sabotage spread across France, disturbing the peace of
the ruling class.

Photos at :



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