France: Impressive Strikes and Demonstrations on 19 March 2009

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The new day of united action is incontestably a great success.  On the 19th of March, there were more strikes, more demonstrations, and many more demonstrators than there were on the 29th of January, which was an exceptional mobilization itself.

3 Million Demonstrators at 219 Demos1

For employment, purchasing power, and social protection. . . , this mobilization gathered many millions of private- and public-sector workers, youth, and pensioners.

Once again, the size of the united mobilization contributed to its success, increasing our power and firming up our determination to make it impossible to ignore our demands.

This day of action, the culmination of a social climate that is increasingly fueled by struggles at numerous companies, is a new stage of mobilization.  Therefore, the event directly confronts the government and employers.

How can they dare to ignore the mobilization backed by nearly 80% of the French?

Certainly not by calling the strikers and demonstrators “demagogues” as the President of the MEDEF did.  Certainly not by blaming French workers since the trade union action is being held in a number of European countries.  Certainly not by remaining fixated on an economic and social policy that is more and more contested.  Certainly not by counting on division, attrition, and provocations.

Denying the growing magnitude of the mobilization would mean a heavy liability that would have consequences for the social climate.

The joint platform of the trade unions must promptly become the subject of serious negotiations involving the state and employers.

This demand will continue to make itself felt through expanding action initiatives at the companies and in the communities.  Strengthened by the mobilizations of the 29th of January and the 19th of March, workers have the right to obtain, at all levels, the results on wages, employment, working conditions. . . .

On Friday morning, the unions will have another joint meeting to discuss future coordinated inter-trade initiatives.  The CGT will make its intervention in the meeting to boost the protest dynamic by reinforcing trade union unity.

In the period fraught with challenges for the future of workers, we must strengthen trade unionism in order to augment the trend of support for the CGT which expressed itself today.

Montreuil, 19 March 2009

Mobilization in Europe

After demonstrations in Dublin, Lisbon, Lithuania, and Iceland, more trade union demonstrations are scheduled on 28 March in London, on 2 April in Athens, and on 4 April in Rome, and then demonstrations will be held across Europe: on 14 May in Brussels, on 15 May in Madrid, and on 16 May in Berlin and Prague.


1  The turnout of 1.2 million demonstrators was announced by the police at 8:15 on the radio, before the demos …!

The original communiqué “Ampleur impressionnante des grèves et des manifestations du 19 mars” was issued by the Confédération générale du travail on 19 March 2009.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at]