1995, november 24 - december 12 - millions say no! to cuts in the welfare system
public transport, hospital, telephone, utility, postal, education and public service workers are on strike, as are coal miners. students have joined the strike in huge numbers. transportation in and out of the cities and the country is at a stand-still. five million french workers and students walked off their jobs, marched in the streets, blockaded major transportation arteries and shut down most commerce in the country for over three weeks.
the dispute is about government plans to overhaul the welfare system, reducing benefits all round, cutting back on medicine and public sector workers conditions. the government says there must be cuts to enable france to become part of the small groups of countries developing a single european currency. they claim that the french state cannot afford the welfare system.
while the general strike ended after three weeks, most transport workers stayed away from the job another week in order win more gains on the job. transport workers in the port of marseilles did not return to work until january 9, after winning an accord which ended a two-tier pay scheme. in the end, the juppé government climbed down on many issues, agreeing not to change civil servants' retirement age, to negotiate the hated railway restructuring plans, and to hold a "social summit" with unions and business leaders.
pictures and more text on the 1995 french general strike are available from the a-infos alternative news service
more information has also been collected by a fellow worker from seattle, or possibly utah
an article on this strike was also published in the people's weekly world, a publication of the communist party u.s.a.
1968 - france crippled by largest general strike in modern history
the french general strike of 1968 is legendary. over 10 million people demonstrated against poverty, unemployment and the conservative government of general charles de gaulle. more information will be forthcoming. in the meantime, take a look at this collection of french revolutionary posters from that critical moment in labor history.
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