A spectacular amount of people were drawn into the streets on Tuesday 12 October for what was already the fourth “day of action” (mass demonstrations and strikes) in France since the beginning of September, reaching the record level of 3.5 million demonstrators nationwide.
No less than 244 demonstrations were reported nationally. 330,000 demonstrators in Paris, 230,000 in Marseilles, 145,000 in Toulouse,…the picture is the same everywhere. In Paris, some of the police sent to contain the demonstration joined the protests.
About 300 colleges and 400 secondary schools were disrupted by strike action, with students joining the protests all over the country. In Rouen, the school-student contingent on the march was four times bigger than on 2 October. “Sarko, you’re screwed, the youth are on the streets”, chanted students in Toulouse, as they joined the protests en masse for the first time.
Public transport, education, the metal and chemical industries, postal services, refineries and ports were significantly hit by strike action on Tuesday. But strikes were also reported in less “traditional” places: in Paris, hundreds of tourists were ushered away from the Eiffel Tower after the staff joined in the strike!
In the transport, the workers from the RATP (Parisian public transport) have voted in general assemblies for indefinite strike action from 12 October onwards. In a similar move, the SNCF (national railway network) unions have issued notice of renewable 24 hour strikes as well.
A strike at the port of Marseille’s Fos and Lavera oil terminals entered its 17th day. This strike and blockade is of strategic importance, since 40% of crude oil imported into France passes through these terminals. By their strike, the workers are hindering the supply of half the country’s oil storage sites! Also, workers at 11 of France’s 12 oil refineries, including all of TOTAL’s six sites, were on strike on Tuesday.
France: Biggest turnout in the streets for decades | socialistworld.net
The Strikewave spreads -
French youths battled riot police, truckers blocked roads and filling stations ran dry as protests escalated Monday against President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at youths who set a car on fire, smashed bus stops and hurled rocks outside a school in Nanterre, near Paris, blocked by students protesting President Nicolas Sarkozy's pensions reform.
Youths threw petrol bombs at police outside a school in another Paris suburb, Combes-la-Ville, police said. In Lyon, hooded youngsters burned at least three cars they had overturned during clashes with riot police.
France24 - Tear gas and burning cars in pension reform protests
French motorists have begun a rush to petrol stations, despite assurances from the government and the oil sector that the country will not run out of fuel because of strikes at refineries and fuel depots.
France24 - Motorists rush to refuel even as government reassures
Unions said between 2.5 million and 3 million had taken to the streets on Saturday.
The French president is determined to stand firm on his plans to raise the retirement age, but unions have staged weeks of nationwide demonstrations to try to force him to back down. Five-day-old rail and refinery strikes are piling pressure on the government by disrupting travel.
Public and private sector employees and students marched in dozens of cities, with the biggest crowd assembling in Paris. The mood was upbeat, with disco music blaring, horns honking and chants of "All Together."
France24 - French unions and police at odds over protester numbers
French unions on Thursday called a nationwide strike for Oct. 19, hoping to galvanise the country into a drawn-out confrontation with the government over a proposed rise in the retirement age.
With some French people already fearing a national protest similar to one which paralysed the country in 1995, motorists have begun panic-buying of fuel after industrial action closed refineries and halted trains.
During protests on Thursday secondary school students chanted "Sarko, you're screwed, youths are in the street," as they marched through Paris.
"Young people are fighting for their future, and this is not the reform they want," Victor Grezes, a representative of secondary school students' union UNL, told Reuters TV.
The government insists it will see through a reform needed to clean up its finances and retain France's AAA credit rating.
However, a poll released on Thursday showed two-thirds of French people believe the sectoral stoppages could grow into a broad national protest movement that could paralyse the country as in 1995, when a 24-day strike crushed a pension overhaul.
France24 - Unions call for new protests Oct. 19 as strikes continue for third day