France : The Struggle Intensifies

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Far from weakening the revolt in France is growing and intensifying. Under mounting pressure from below the CGT, the largest trade union federation, has called a general strike for Tuesday 5 February.

The demands of the strike reflect the influence of the Yellow Vest movement: higher wages, tax the rich rather than the poor, more money for public services and defence of the right to protest.

Other trade unionists, beyond the CGT have backed the call with the SUD Rail branch at Paris Nord saying ‘, “Rail workers, are you ready? We have our accounts to settle with the government! Stop job cuts, raise wages, no to privatisation. On 5 February, we have to block ­everything, we need to build an unlimited general strike.”

On Saturday , the 11th week of protests, tens of thousands of Gilets Jaunes were still out on the streets.

This linkup between the Yellow Vests and the power of organised workers in the workplaces is a very important development.

At the same time Macron is responding by stepping up police repression. Riot Police are being armed with new, more dangerous, weapons to put down the protests even more ruthlessly. Some squadrons of the CRS (riot police) are now being armed with assault rifles. In addition the CRS in Nantes are using the Riot Gun Penn Arms. It shoots six rubber bullets of an apparently harder calibre than the standard—and highly dangerous—LBD-40 that has been used so far. Jerome Rodrigues, a popular figure in the Yellow Vests, was hit in the face by a rubber bullet or flashball on the demonstration in Paris. He is expected to lose the sight in his right eye.

There have also been clashes with fascists. The contingent of the revolutionary socialist NPA on the Yellow Vest march in Paris was attacked by “The Zouaves”, a fascist group. Several NPA members were wounded. The Yellow Vests have been holding local popular assemblies and last weekend they held an ‘assembly of assemblies’ bringing  together about 26 delegations from across the country. .It issued a statement saying;

 “ From the smallest village, from the rural world to the largest city, we have raised ourselves against this deeply violent, unjust and unbearable society. We won’t let it go! We will fight against a life of precariousness and misery. Twenty six billionaires possessing as much as half of humanity is unacceptable.
“We demand the immediate increase in wages, social security, allowances and pensions, the unconditional right to housing and health, education, free public services for all.”

The similarity between what the Yellow Vests are demanding and the policies of People Before Profit in Ireland is clear. Below we print the complete ‘Commercy Declaration’ adopted by the Yellow Vests assembly.

 

The Commercy declaration

We, the Yellow Vests of the roundabouts, parking spaces, seats, assemblies, demonstrations, are meeting on 26 and 27 January 2019 in the “Assembly of assemblies”, bringing together about 26 delegations, Responding to the call of the Commercy yellow vests. 

Since 17 November, from the smallest villages, from the rural world to the largest cities, we have raised ourselves against this deeply violent, unjust and unbearable society. We won’t let it go!

We will fight against life’s current precariousness and misery. We want, for our loved ones, our families and children, to live in dignity. 26 billionaires possessing as much as half of humanity is unacceptable.

Let’s share wealth and not misery! Let’s finish with social inequalities! We demand the immediate increase in wages, social security, allowances and pensions, the unconditional right to housing and health, education, free public services for all.

It is for all these rights that we take on a daily basis, that we organise actions, demonstrations and debates everywhere. With our Yellow Vests, we return to the world we never had.

And what is the government’s response? Repression, contempt, denigration. Deaths and thousands wounded, the massive use of weapons that maim, mutilate, hurt and traumatise.

More than 1,000 people were arbitrarily convicted and imprisoned. And now the new “Anti-breaker” Act is simply aimed at preventing us from protesting.

We condemn all violence against demonstrators from law enforcement or violent groups. None of this will stop us! Protest is a fundamental right. End of impunity for law enforcement! Amnesty for all victims of repression!

And what a trick that this great national debate is, in fact, a government communication campaign, which will build our will to debate and decide! True democracy, we practice it in our assemblies, on our roundabouts. It is neither on the tv trays nor in the round tables organized by Macron.

After insulting us and having treated less than nothing, now he presents us as a hateful, xenophobic crowd. But we are the opposite: neither racist nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to be together, with our differences, to build a society of solidarity.

We are strong in the diversity of our discussions, at this very moment hundreds of assemblies develop and propose their own demands. They put forward real democracy, social and tax justice, working conditions, ecological and climate justice and the end of discrimination.

Among the most debated strategic demands and proposals we find: the eradication of poverty in all its forms, the transformation of institutions, the ecological transition (energy insecurity, industrial pollution …), equality and consideration of all, regardless of nationality (persons in situations of disability, gender equality, end of the abandonment of the popular neighbourhoods, the rural world).

We, the Yellow Vests, invite everyone, within their means, to join us. We call for the continuation of acts (Act 12 against police violence before police stations, Acts 13, 14…), to continue the occupation of the roads and the blocking of the economy, to build a massive and renewable strike from 5 February. We call for committees to be formed in workplaces, colleges, schools and elsewhere so that this strike can be built at the base by the strikers themselves. Let’s get our things in hand Don’t stay alone, join us!

Let us organise ourselves in a democratic, autonomous and independent way. This Assembly of Assemblies is an important step that allows us to discuss our demands and our means of action. Focus on the transformation of society!

Macron resign! Long live power to the people, for the people and by the people.