French Protest, why don’t we?
I have to say that when it comes to seeing a big demonstration the Europeans and particularly the French are on the ball, at least when compared to the rather dismal protests undertaken here. Although, we have seen some pretty big ‘rallies’ in D.C. lately, but really nothing that would look like the organization in France.
The French are angry about the proposed changes to the retirement age, from 60 to 62, and there is rioting in the streets. The response by the government is predictable, lots of riot police and violence to stop the protest before the workers suffer! A standard line even when the workers will suffer no matter what.
I can only wish for more ‘pushback’ by the people of this country against the injustices, and there are many to chose from, running rampant in this country. Unfortunately, appears that no 2 people around here can agree on anything long enough to get organized. There are always these divisive issues that become more important than the task at hand and poof…there goes your cooperation.
I hope this changes and soon!
French industry ‘losing at least £100 million a day’
Teams of riot police carried out dawn raids to free France’s oil depots on Wednesday as industry said the strikes against pension reforms were costing them at least £100 million per day.
Under orders from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, riot police in black body armour broke blockades around three depots in western France overnight, as fuel shortages left a third of France’s filling stations without petrol.
“If it is not stopped quickly, this disorder which is aimed at paralysing the country could have consequences for jobs by damaging the normal running of economic activity,” the President said in a statement yesterday.
Jean Pelin, director general of France’s chemical industries association, said that the strike had already cost his sector an estimated billion euros in lost turnover, around 100 million euros (£88 million) for every extra strike day.
“This is a severe blow for an industry that was just recovering from the (economic) crisis,” he told the Daily Telegraph. He said a little over half of the losses were due to a strike at Marseille’s Fos-Lavera port, where dozens of petrol tankers are unable to offload.
The president of France’s Assemblée of chambers of commerce and industry, Jean-François Bernardin, said that “tens of thousands” of businesses had been hit by the strike action, due to lack of fuel and transport disruption, while SNCF, the national rail operator said it was losing 20 million euros (£17.5 million) a day.
But workers in several key sectors showed no sign of ending a week-long strike against a plan to raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62, which the government has said is essential to reduce France’s public deficit.
All 12 of France’s oil refineries are still blocked but police have cleared access to 21 oil depots since Friday and the government has insisted that petrol shortages will end within five days.
The senate was initially due to approve yesterday (Weds) but Socialist filibustering has now pushed back the final vote until tomorrow (Friday) at the earliest. But even if it goes through, six out of 10 French people support continued strike action, according to a poll published in Libération newspaper. Some 79 per cent want the government to reopen negotiations with the unions, it found.
Buoyed by massive public support, unions are considering calling a seventh mass strike protest day next Tuesday, despite the fact that half term school holidays starts on Saturday – a break the President hopes will help the movement fizzle out.
Pledging to stand firm, François Fillon, the prime minister said yesterday that “social confrontation” was part of French democracy but that in the end “national consensus” over the need for pension reform would prevail.
Meanwhile, protests by university and secondary school students were once again hijacked by “troublemakers” in some areas.
Central Lyons was the scene of what one police spokesman called “urban guerrilla warfare” for the third day. Masked rioters clashed with police, throwing projectiles and setting fire to a van.
There was tear gas and clashes in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, where rioters hijacked a secondary school pupil protest and burned a car.
Brice Hortefeux, the interior minister, warned that “the right to protest is not the right to break things, the right to set things on fire, the right to assault, the right to pillage.”
“We will use all means necessary to get these delinquents,” he added, including bringing in the feared GIGN paramilitary police to take over from CRS riot police.
In the past week, almost 1,500 people had been detained for protest-related violence, with 123 facing legal action, and 62 police officers injured, he said.
Security forces were also called in to clear stinking rubbish that has been piling up in Marseilles for ten days due to striking dustmen.
Transport woes continued with a third of TGV express trains cancelled. A quarter of flights were cancelled at Paris’s second biggest airport, Orly and strikers blocked access to roads leading to Roissy-Charles de Gaulle, where flights were running almost normally.
I urge everyone to get more cooperative, don’t lose the country over backyard issues!