France: “We´re not on the same side”

From the yellow vests to the general strike of December 5

On Saturday, November 16, Act No. 53, which marked the first anniversary of the yellow vests movement, took place. If Saturday´s protests are a new demonstration of the vigor of this popular anger, they are also yet another demonstration of the violence of police repression. Police prefect Didier Lallement told a demonstrator without filter: “We are not on the same side.”

Manuel, a temp worker from northern France who was shot in the head while calmly debating at the Place d´Italie, knows something about it… He is the twenty-fourth protester who has lost an eye since the uprising began. The protesters with yellow vests also understood that there are two sides: «We are workers, angry citizens, we have opened our eyes; before we did not express it, but we have become aware that there is an oligarchy and that the government works for them and for the CAC40 (1)».

This movement is both an effect of and a factor in the general political crisis that tends to paralyze power. What the police chief said, as well as the growing influence of the right-wing Alliance union over part of the national police, tends to show that Castaner, the Interior Minister, has no control and is overwhelmed by the forces he has unleashed.

Given this, the social struggle is multiplied: hospitals have been on strike for eight months, firefighters, students who are taking action after the immolation of Anas (2), and workers against the pensions bill, liberal professionals…

The government´s attempts to divide and undermine the movement have no effect… The day after its announcements of an “emergency plan for hospitals”, anger is intact and the inter-hospital collective responded to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe: «We sign, together with the collective, associations and trade union organizations, a unitary statement in response to the prime minister´s announcements of. No, they do not respond to our demands. Yes, we will continue to mobilize: November 30 and December 17!» Like the Minister of Higher Education who, in the face of student precariousness, answers that people should call the free consultation line!

Even the CFDT railway union (3), at the end of a bilateral meeting on Thursday, November 21, with the Secretary of Transportation and pension manager Jean-Paul Delevoye, is in a difficult situation and has announced its intention to present a strike notice for December 5th! In the RATP (4), the 21st scheduled meeting with the representative unions (CFE-CGC, CGT and UNSA) was not held and UNSA preferred to distribute flyers in the subway…

The calls for a general inter-professional strike for December 5 multiply and so far none of the government´s attempts to deactivate it have worked. That date crystallizes the accumulated social anger and the need of the masses to find a way out to express it, while the other outbreaks of protest, with the student body and the hospitals at the front, in parallel, maintain the pressure with their own protest agenda.

The counterrevolutionary policy of destruction of our social model that Macron seeks, needs a social base and a strong power, which he does not have nor has ever had; even his “armed arm” is not under his control, with police unions calling to join the demonstration on December 5.

The situation is, therefore, so explosive for Macron and his government of thugs, that his own field is quick to demolish. It is difficult to predict in which direction the wind will blow, but the head of the Chamber of Deputies, Patrick Mignola, has bluntly warned: «Obviously, the majority will not sustain a fifteen-day strike…» (5)

The Commune, Paris, 11/22/19

1. Index of the French Stock Exchange (Le Parisien, 11/14/19).
2. 22 year old young man who immolated himself in Lyon against student precariousness on November 8.
3. Pro-employer union central.
4. Public transport company in Paris: subways, buses, trams and inter-city trains.
5., 11/16/19.