French union protest slams government over jobless (fwd)

Spoon Collective spoons at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Tue Sep 24 01:16:46 MDT 1996

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Date: Mon, 23 Sep 1996 15:38:12 -0500 (CDT)
From: Chegitz Guevara <mluziett at>
To: "lists -- Conference" <iww-news at>,
    Marxism <marxism at>,
    cflist <marxchat at>, SLDRTY-L <SLDRTY-L at LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Cc: left-unity <left-unity at>
Subject: French union protest slams government over jobless (fwd)

Marc, "the Chegitz," Luzietti
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(Updates with quotes, crowd estimates)
    PARIS, Sept 21 (Reuter) - More than 12,000 demonstrators marched
through Paris on Saturday to protest against what they said was government
inertia in the face of record unemployment.
    The rally, organised by the centrist Force Ouvriere (FO) union, marked
the first sign of resistance to Prime Minister Alain Juppe's 1997 budget,
which fulfils criteria required for European Monetary Union through
government spending cuts.
    The FO says the 1997 budget, which was presented this week, contains
no measures to reduce the record 12.5 percent jobless rate. It says
100,000 people risk losing their jobs this year and between 120,000 and
150,000 next year.
    ``It's not because some technocrats arbitrarily defined certain
economic criteria several years ago that these criteria should constitute
a Bible,'' FO leader Marc Blondel told the crowd gathered at Bastille
    He said the outlook for jobs was even gloomier among young people.
``Two out of three say, 'We won't have work.' Whether or not they're
right, this reflects such a poor outlook that our society will have great
difficulty to go on. We say no to layoffs because if not, our society will
explode,'' Blondel said.
    ``Tomorrow perhaps others will join us,'' he told the crowd, which
marched a short way to the Place de la Nation. Estimates from police and
organisers ranged from 12,000 to 30,000 demonstrators.
    Despite a barrage of union warnings of unrest, reactions to the budget
have so far been relatively subdued and the FO protest was not joined by
the other large unions.
    For the moment, there are few signs of turmoil on anything like the
scale of late last year, when railworkers worried by government plans to
trim pension rights -- plans now abandoned -- spearheaded a crippling
24-day-long public transport strike.
    The country's largest labour union, the Socialist CFDT, has not yet
talked of demonstrations, but said the budget would not ``reassure the
vast majority worried by unemployment.''
    The centre-right government's budget for next year provides for
spending cuts and savings worth 60 billion francs ($11.7 billion),
including some 6,000 civil service job cuts, to help France get its public
finances ready for the move to a single European currency.
    The drive to monetary union requires countries to trim their deficit
to three percent of gross national product in 1997.
    Louis Viannet, head of the Communist-led CGT union, said in an
interview in the newspaper Le Monde on Friday that the budget sacrificed
jobs in the name of preparing for monetary union and would drive a bigger
wedge between rich and poor.
    ``I keep hearing 'things are going to explode'. I've no idea, but we
are facing a situation which could rapidly trigger a reaction of
rebellion,'' Viannet said.
    Another measure of resistance will come at the end of this month when
teachers are set to stage a strike to protest at the loss of more than
2,500 state education posts.
  ($1-5.139 French Franc)

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