The Struggle Against Austerity in France

Hundreds of thousands protest pension cuts in France

By Alex Lantier, 17 January 2020

Support for the strike and opposition to Macron continue to grow even after the government made a few minor, insincere changes to its proposed cuts.

French strikers march as Prime Minister Philippe offers cosmetic changes to pension cuts

By Alex Lantier and Anthony Torres, 13 January 2020

Hundreds of thousands of strikers and “yellow vests” marched against French President Emmanuel Macron’s pension cuts Saturday.

In New Year’s address, French President Macron pledges to impose austerity despite mass strike

By Alex Lantier, 4 January 2020

In his perfunctory eighteen-minute speech Tuesday night, Macron made clear he intends to impose his pension cuts in the face of mass protests and strikes by the working class.

French unions work to end strike as government maintains pension cuts

By Anthony Torres, 21 December 2019

The unions are now calling for an end to strike action or using negotiations scheduled for January as a pretext to weaken workers’ resolve and betray the strike.

French strikers protest prime minister’s pledge to impose pension cuts

By Anthony Torres, 14 December 2019

Anger is mounting among workers after Edouard Philippe stressed he would push through his regressive program despite widespread strike action and popular opposition.

Calls grow for mass December 5 protest strike against French pension cuts

By Anthony Torres, 29 November 2019

Amid an international resurgence of class struggle, it is critical for workers to take control of their struggles from the hands of the corrupt union bureaucracies.

Immigrant tent camps in Paris: Victims of France’s war on refugees

By Will Morrow, 13 August 2019

Every night in Paris, in sprawling tent encampments lying beneath highway overpasses, or in local playgrounds and parks, thousands of refugees go to sleep on the street.

France’s “yellow vest” protesters brave repression and mass arrests

By Alex Lantier and Kumaran Ira, 9 December 2018

The French president’s attempts to staunch the protests through a combination of phony concessions and state violence have clearly failed.

France's “yellow vest” protests expose Jean-Luc Mélenchon's pro-capitalist populism

By Alex Lantier, 6 December 2018

Jean-Luc Mélenchon's attack on socialism and his proclamation of the political irrelevance of the working class reflect his hostility to growing social anger among workers.

High school students and ambulance drivers join ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France

By Alex Lantier, 4 December 2018

With a fourth consecutive Saturday of mass demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron’s regressive taxes planned this weekend, tens of thousands of high school students throughout France have staged demonstrations at their schools.

Workers and retirees rally against French government’s austerity policies

By Anthony Torres, 10 October 2018

As Macron slashes wage levels and basic social rights in France, growing numbers of workers distrust the unions and are calling for a general strike.

Build rank-and-file committees to unify struggles against austerity in France!

By the Socialist Equality Party (France), 9 October 2018

Workers face the choice between President Emmanuel Macron’s social counterrevolution and a revolutionary struggle to bring down the Macron government.

Mass layoffs announced at French retail giant Carrefour

By Anthony Torres, 12 June 2018

Carrefour announced last week that it would close down 272 stores it purchased from the Dia retail chain, laying off thousands of workers.

As the unions continue talks with the government

French rail workers, students resume strike action against Macron

By Kumaran Ira, 9 April 2018

The trade unions are coordinating with the Macron government to contain the rail workers’ strike movement against the planned privatisation of the French National Railways.

In Paris, Mélenchon calls on trade unions to control opposition to austerity

By Anthony Torres and Kumaran Ira, 25 September 2017

On Saturday, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Unsubmissive France movement held its national rally in the Place de la République in Paris.

Macron’s labor decrees in France: A new stage in the international social counter-revolution

By Alex Lantier, 5 September 2017

By unilaterally rewriting the French Labor Code, Macron is setting into motion a confrontation with the working class with international and revolutionary implications.

Mélenchon and Socialist Party launch symbolic legal challenge to French labor law reform

By Anthony Torres, 7 August 2017

The Socialist Party has no intention of stopping an anti-worker employment reform that it proposed and largely pushed through under former French President François Hollande.

French National Assembly approves enabling act to rewrite labor law

By Francis Dubois, 18 July 2017

The legislature has opened the way for the government of President Emmanuel Macron to massively increase the exploitation of the French working class.

Political lessons of the French elections

By Alex Lantier, 23 June 2017

The election of Emmanuel Macron is the outcome of the reactionary policies of the organizations in the so-called French left that broke with Trotskyism.

French air traffic controllers strike against work restructuring

By Anthony Torres, 10 March 2017

Amidst growing opposition among workers, the trade unions are calling strikes against contracts that the unions themselves have already signed.

Build the Socialist Equality Party (France)!

15 November 2016

This statement was adopted as the historical and political basis for the founding of the Parti de l’égalité socialiste, the French section of the ICFI.

French unions join far-right movement against refugees in Calais

By Anthony Torres, 12 September 2016

The CGT is inciting nationalist hatred to divide the workers and disorient their opposition to the wars and social cuts of the French government, which it helped elect.

France pushes for regime change after contested elections in Gabon

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier, 2 September 2016

Well before investigations of the election returns have begun, Paris is demanding that incumbent President Ali Bongo immediately hand over power.

Amid protests, French government uses emergency powers to impose draft labor law

By Alex Lantier, 6 July 2016

The use of the constitution’s Article 49-3 to impose a redraft of the law without a vote in the National Assembly testifies to the Socialist Party’s contempt for democracy.

Courts persecute opponents of French labour law in Amiens

By Antoine Lerougetel, 2 July 2016

Two anti-El Khomri law protesters, Manon Chelmy and high school student Jules, 18, were sentenced to 90 hours of community service.

French president pushes for labor law vote as unions try to defuse protests

By Stéphane Hugues and Alex Lantier, 1 July 2016

Having already threatened to ban protests against the law under the state of emergency, the PS government is working with the union bureaucracies to wind down opposition.

Mass protests follow failed attempt to ban opposition to French labor law

By Alex Lantier, 24 June 2016

Having pulled back from its attempt to ban demonstrations, the Socialist Party is proposing to outlaw left-wing parties that it considers opposed to the French state.

French government backs down from ban on protest against labor law

By Alex Lantier, 23 June 2016

Trade union officials told the Socialist Party government they feared large numbers of people would defy any ban on today's protest in Paris.

French government threatens ban on protests against labor law

By V. Gnana and Alex Lantier, 16 June 2016

Shaken by rising working class opposition, the Socialist Party is signaling that it is prepared to shred basic democratic rights and institute a police state regime to impose austerity.

French unions boost pressure to end strike movement against labor law

By Anthony Torres, 13 June 2016

The union bureaucracy is isolating workers, industry by industry, while preparing new talks with the Socialist Party government.

French government threatens to crush strikes as Euro 2016 football cup starts

By Alex Lantier, 11 June 2016

Workers also faced criticism from union officials, who pushed for an end to the strike with claims that striking during the Euro cup would reflect badly on their image.

The return of the “grand narrative”

By Andre Damon, 1 June 2016

The resurgence of the class struggle is undermining the intellectual charlatanry that underpinned the ideological dominance of various forms of anti-Marxism over the past half-century.

As strikes spread, mass protests demand withdrawal of French labor law

By Alex Lantier and Johannes Stern, 27 May 2016

Hundreds of thousands of people marched throughout France Thursday in the eighth nationwide protest against the anti-worker law implemented earlier this month.

International finance capital and the strikes in France

By Nick Beams, 25 May 2016

The aim of the “structural reforms” demanded by the IMF and the financial elites is the destruction of all the social gains of the European working class won in the past seven decades.

Oil workers mobilise against French labour law

By Kumaran Ira, 23 May 2016

The Socialist Party is sending riot police to break up refinery strikes as they cause fuel shortages across France.

French parliament extends state of emergency amid rising protests

By Alex Lantier, 20 May 2016

Contrary to official claims, the state of emergency is not aimed at Islamist terrorism, but at growing opposition in the working class to social austerity and military and police violence.

French government escalates repression of protests against labor law

By Stéphane Hugues, 17 May 2016

Even though this illegitimate and regressive law has technically been passed, a majority of the French people want protests against it to continue.

French police attack demonstrations against regressive labor law

By Alex Lantier, 13 May 2016

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated across France yesterday against the Socialist Party’s efforts to impose far reaching reforms without a vote in the National Assembly.

A new strategy is needed to fight French labor law

By Alex Lantier, 13 May 2016

The most politically conscious and advanced layers of workers and youth must prepare themselves not only for the mass struggles that will erupt, but for socialist revolution.

Protests erupt in France against regressive labor law

By Alex Lantier, 12 May 2016

Protesters clashed violently with police and sacked the headquarters of the ruling Socialist Party in several cities across France.

Protests shrink as police attack fourth day of action against French labour law

By Alex Lantier, 29 April 2016

The protesters are coming up against the absence of a viable strategy for mounting a political struggle to defend basic social rights against a reactionary Socialist Party government.

Workers and youth in Amiens speak out against French labour reform

By Antoine Lerougetel, 29 April 2016

A WSWS team spoke to protesting youth who unanimously criticised the strategy of the trade and student unions as insufficient to struggle against the labour reform.

French students speak out against austerity and state of emergency

By Kumaran Ira and Anthony Torres, 25 March 2016

Students protesting the French labour reform expressed their opposition to the Socialist Party’s austerity measures, state of emergency and imperialist wars.

Police arrest Air France strikers who confronted bosses over mass layoffs

By Kumaran Ira, 14 October 2015

The arrest of the strikers is a deliberate act of political intimidation aimed at the working class as a whole, which is broadly sympathetic to the strikers.

Mercedes-Daimler imposes unpaid work at French Smart car plant

By Antoine Lerougetel, 23 September 2015

The workers’ decision to accept unpaid working hours in exchange for supposed job security was a vote of no confidence in the unions.

French bosses’ call to end permanent job contracts, facilitate mass layoffs

By Kumaran Ira, 7 April 2015

The French business group Medef is calling for the creation of a new type of job contract in order to facilitate individual and mass sackings of workers.

French Socialist Party government announces new round of free-market reforms

By Kumaran Ira, 4 March 2015

After pushing through the Macron Law on deregulation, the PS government is preparing a further round of sweeping austerity measures and structural reforms.

The legitimization of Marine Le Pen

By Joseph Kishore and Alex Lantier, 20 January 2015

By opening its pages to Le Pen, the New York Times has signaled that powerful sections of the ruling class view anti-Muslim racism as a legitimate part of the public debate.

At Lyon congress, French National Front prepares itself as party of capitalist rule

By Francis Dubois, 11 December 2014

The National Front's advance can be explained, above all, by the naked bankruptcy of the Socialist Party and its pseudo-left allies, such as the NPA.

French President Hollande moves to end universality of family benefits

By Stéphane Hugues, 18 October 2014

Benefits paid to all families with children in France since the end of World War II are being slashed by Hollande's Socialist Party government.

Air France delays outsourcing of jobs amid pilots strike

By our reporters, 24 September 2014

Faced with growing opposition from different sections of Air France workers, the airline may postpone the full implementation of its low-cost subsidiary Transavia-Europe.

The New Anti-capitalist Party and the political crisis in France

By Anthony Torres, 8 September 2014

The NPA will continue to defend the current government, France’s most right-wing regime since the World War II-era fascist government of Vichy.

French unions open for business with new pro-austerity government

By Pierre Mabut, 2 September 2014

The trade union bureaucracy opposes strike action to challenge the deeply unpopular Valls government, lest it fall.

French government collapses amid mounting anger over austerity policies

By Alex Lantier, 26 August 2014

President Hollande dissolved the government Monday, firing leading ministers who had publicly attacked his deeply unpopular austerity policies.

Workers speak out against privatization of French railways

By Anthony Torres, 19 June 2014

Approximately 1,000 demonstrators gathered in Paris on June 17 to protest the Socialist Party government’s planned privatization of the French railways.

French rail workers, artists protest social cuts

By Kumaran Ira, 16 June 2014

Nationwide strikes involving rail and cultural workers reflect rising social opposition to the Socialist Party government.

March 18 protest against social cuts in France: A political dead end

By Alex Lantier and Stéphane Hugues, 19 March 2014

Workers see one-day protests called by unions that are negotiating austerity policies as a political charade.

French unions sign Socialist Party’s “Responsibility Pact”

By Kumaran Ira, 12 March 2014

France’s unions are collaborating with President Hollande on the implementation of an austerity program that intensifies attacks on workers’ living standards.

French pseudo-left works to defeat workers’ opposition to upcoming pension cuts

By Anthony Torres, 27 June 2013

The NPA is trying to bring the popular opposition to the Socialist Party’s austerity policies into the dead end of support for the Left Front and the union bureaucracy.

France: How the Workers’ Struggle group is helping to shut down the Aulnay car plant

By Antoine Lerougetel and Pierre Mabut, 17 June 2013

On May 17, CGT branch spokesman Jean-Pierre Mercier signed a deal that puts the seal on the Aulnay car plant’s closure by 2014.

An exchange of letters on the CGT union’s role in France’s anti-worker port reform

4 May 2011

WSWS author Anthony Torres responds to a CGT executive defending the recent reform of France’s industrial ports.

CGT union defends anti-worker reform of French ports

By Anthony Torres, 30 April 2011

The CGT has signed and praised a new national collective agreement attacking the social conditions of French port workers.

The CGT and Sarkozy’s pension “reform”

By Anthony Torres, 4 February 2011

Last month, the leader of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Bernard Thibault, did not attend the traditional New Year’s presidential ceremony at the Elysée Palace, and reproached Sarkozy for ignoring the unions as he gutted retirement benefits.

French magazine Politis promotes petition on pension reform

By Anthony Torres, 11 January 2011

The French magazine Politis has launched a petition drive asking voters to pronounce themselves for or against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reforms.

An exchange on the strike-breaking role of the trade unions at a French refinery

28 December 2010

A letter and reply on “How France’s unions aided police strike-breaking at Grandpuits refinery”

Lutte Ouvrière group defends union betrayal of French pension strikes

By Alex Lantier, 10 December 2010

The French middle-class left organisation Lutte Ouvrière has published its balance sheet of the October-November strikes against pension cuts, which whitewashes the unions’ betrayal of the strike.

How France’s unions aided police strike-breaking at Grandpuits refinery

By Kumaran Ira and Antoine Lerougetel, 9 December 2010

Emerging reports on the October oil strike in France show that union officials directly helped police break the workers’ occupation of the Grandpuits refinery.

French President Sarkozy outlines right-wing agenda in TV interview

By Pierre Mabut, 20 November 2010

After defying mass popular opposition to impose pension cuts, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave a TV interview in which he laid out his right-wing agenda.

French Socialist Party advocates fraudulent “Real Equality” program

By Kumaran Ira, 20 November 2010

On November 9, the executive council of the Socialist Party (PS) adopted a text on "Real Equality," presented as a road map for the next 15 years.

New Anti-Capitalist Party endorses French unions’ sellout of pension strikes

By Alex Lantier, 17 November 2010

The NPA held a meeting last weekend to take stock of the October strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts and prepare its next national Congress.

Sarkozy reshuffles French cabinet

By Alex Lantier, 16 November 2010

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s reshuffling of the cabinet is his first major decision after the defeat of last month’s strikes against his pension cuts.

Lessons of the European strike wave

By Alex Lantier, 11 November 2010

The betrayal of the strikes in France against President Sarkozy’s pension cuts underscores the need for a political balance sheet of the struggles waged against social cuts adopted by European governments.

French Constitutional Council approves pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 10 November 2010

France’s Constitutional Council threw out a legal challenge to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension-cutting law, passed by parliament October 27 despite overwhelming popular opposition and a wave of strikes.

French police infiltrated protests against Sarkozy austerity program

By Anthony Torres, 10 November 2010

During the recent strike wave in France against the Sarkozy government’s austerity measures and pension “reform”, demonstrators observed police infiltrating several contingents and carrying out a variety of provocative actions.

One million march in eighth national protest against Sarkozy’s pension law

By Antoine Lerougetel, 8 November 2010

Over 1 million people marched Saturday in the eighth national day of action against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts.

Pseudo-left critics of French unions sow demoralization about strikes

By Alex Lantier, 8 November 2010

Last month’s weeks-long oil strike in France has exposed the charlatanry of various pseudo-left “critics” of the trade unions, who either fled for cover or preached surrender at the first serious industrial struggle.

French union leaders seek to wind down opposition to pension cuts

By Alex Lantier and Kumaran Ira, 6 November 2010

Unions sought to isolate workers striking against Sarkozy’s pension cuts and discourage participation in today’s one-day national protest, while building support for the bourgeois “left” Socialist Party.

French unions call further one-day strike to contain opposition

By Alex Lantier, 5 November 2010

In deciding to call a one-day protest at the end of November, French unions are trying to contain popular demands for more opposition to social austerity, while making clear that they will not support ongoing protest actions against the government.

France: More strikes, opposition to social austerity

By Alex Lantier, 3 November 2010

Continuing strikes and calls for student resistance to President Sarkozy’s social cuts, after the defeat of the recent oil strike against pension cuts, pose even more sharply the need for a political struggle to bring down the government.

New Anti-capitalist Party covers for union betrayal of French oil strike

By Alex Lantier, 1 November 2010

The New Anti-capitalist Party has responded to the isolation and sell-out of the oil strike against French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts by covering for the trade unions and France’s “left” big-business party, the Socialist Party.

The WSWS speaks to workers on October 28 day of action in France

By Antoine Lerougetel, 30 October 2010

WSWS teams attended demonstrations in Paris, Marseille, Nice and Amiens during the October 28 national strike and day of action called against the pension cuts of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Millions march in France against pension cuts

By Kumaran Ira and Alex Lantier, 29 October 2010

An estimated two million people protested in France Thursday against a pension-cutting law passed by the French Parliament over mass popular opposition.

French strikes continue as parliament approves pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 28 October 2010

Strikes continued yesterday against President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension cuts, despite the National Assembly’s approval of the final pension bill passed by the Senate.

French strike movement at a crossroads

By Alex Lantier, 27 October 2010

Echoing the ruling class’ demands that workers abide by the Senate vote for President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension “reform,” French trade union officials are pushing to end the strike movement against the cuts.

French government, unions seek to limit strikes against pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 26 October 2010

Government officials struggled yesterday to limit ongoing strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension “reform.”

Strikes continue in France against pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 25 October 2010

Workers and students continued to mount strike action over the weekend against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts.

France: New Anti-Capitalist Party academic advocates surrender to Sarkozy’s cuts

By Alex Lantier, 25 October 2010

In an interview with Le Monde, sociologist and NPA member Philippe Corcuff insisted that workers should limit themselves to “playful” protests against Sarkozy’s social cuts and strikebreaking.

As police attack refinery strikers

French Senate votes pension cuts over mass opposition

By Alex Lantier, 23 October 2010

The French Senate voted 177-153 yesterday to approve President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension cuts in the face of overwhelming popular opposition and continuing strikes.

Workers face a struggle for power in France

By Alex Lantier, 22 October 2010

Police action to break strikes and blockades in the oil sector has not ended France’s fuel shortage or curtailed strikes and protests by workers and students against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s deeply unpopular pension cuts.

French President Sarkozy moves to break strikes against austerity measures

By Alex Lantier, 21 October 2010

President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to break strikes against his government’s pension cuts and social austerity policies yesterday, sending riot police and army civil service units to disperse picket lines and end oil depot occupations.

Paris workers speak to WSWS on October 19 day of action

By Kumaran Ira, 21 October 2010

WSWS reporters in Paris spoke to demonstrators marching against Sarkozy’s pension cuts in the national one-day protest organized by the trade unions on October 19.

How riot police broke the occupation of the Marseille oil depots

By Anthony Torres, 21 October 2010

The French government gave the order Friday morning, October 15, to send in the CRS riot police to unblock the Fos oil depot occupied by workers near Marseille in southern France.

Millions march in France against pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 20 October 2010

An estimated 3.5 million workers and students marched nationwide in France yesterday in a day of action called to oppose pension cuts demanded by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The strike wave in Europe and the decay of bourgeois democracy

By Barry Grey, 20 October 2010

The growing struggles of the working class in Europe and internationally against mass unemployment and government austerity policies are exposing the reality behind the façade of bourgeois democracy.

Confrontation builds between French workers and Sarkozy

By Alex Lantier, 19 October 2010

Strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s austerity policies continued to spread yesterday, despite Sarkozy’s statements that he was determined to press ahead with the cuts.

The French strike wave: A new stage in the class struggle

By Joseph Kishore, 19 October 2010

The spreading strike wave in France against pension cuts is the latest and most developed expression of a new stage in the class struggle—the entry of the international working class into conflict with the capitalist system.

Scenes from the “Day of Action” in France

19 October 2010

Workers and students from all over France responded to the call for a “Day of Action” against the Sarkozy government’s austerity policies, which include the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 years. The WSWS has photos from Paris and Nice.

WSWS speaks to French workers on protests

By Antoine Lerougetel, 19 October 2010

Millions of workers and students took to the streets in France October 16 to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension cuts.

French government, unions try to end strikes against pension cuts

By Alex Lantier, 18 October 2010

After CRS riot police broke workers’ occupations of three key oil depots Friday, French unions are aligning themselves with government moves to end strikes against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular pension cuts.

The New York Times’ Roger Cohen attacks French workers

By Alex Lantier, 18 October 2010

The mass strikes mounted in the last week by workers in France against the pension cuts of President Nicolas Sarkozy have attracted the ire of Roger Cohen, the New York Times’ chief foreign affairs editor.