29 January 2009: Eyes of All Europe on Strikes and Demos in France!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

On 29 January, the united mobilization organized by the initiative of all trade unions resulted in very broad participation in the strikes in many sectors and demonstrations of rare magnitude.  It’s a resounding rejection of the “gravediggers” of unionism.

Several million workers in the private and public sectors, the unemployed, the precariously employed, pensioners, and college and high school students joined forces en masse to demand responses to their demands.

Hit hard by an economic and financial crisis for which they are not responsible, workers refuse to be the crisis’s first victims.  It’s is not fear, anxiety, or panic that explains this social mobilization, which is exceptional in several respects.  Unless there is a response that truly meets the needs of people, the strong and dynamic protests seen today will not go away.  It is a powerful mobilization of a wide range of participants (workers of large corporations, workers of small and medium-sized businesses, non-union workers, etc.), involving numerous associations; some of the participants are professionals, shopkeepers, and even some small businessmen and businesswomen.

By the CGT’s count, 2.5 million people took part in 195 events (in this regard, the official figures are a joke).  The President of the Republic and employers must listen to the demands put forward today, respond to them, and open spaces of negotiations to address issues related to public aids to corporations, employment, wages and pensions, public service, social security, etc. — all the topics contained in the joint platform of labor unions.

At the inter-union meeting of 2 February, the CGT will propose new initiatives to consolidate our unity and the new balance of forces.  The CGT calls on all workers and organizations to build on the tremendous power of today’s actions to organize, without delay, new mobilizations at the level of companies and communities.

In this context, where the relations of forces will be decisive, the CGT encourages workers to deepen their involvement by joining the CGT.

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The original communiqué “29 janvier 2009: Des grèves et des manifestations en France . . . visibles dans toute l’Europe !” was published on the Web site of the Confédération Générale du Travail today.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).