Yellow Vests and key trade unions unite in large demonstrations against neoliberal policies of Macron government. Poster states: “The Future Belongs to Those Who Struggle” — Editors
The French people have not allowed themselves to be taken for a ride by President Macron. This becomes clear from what Hans-Georg Hermann reports in the Junge Welt of February 6th: “For the first time, supporters of the ‘yellow vests movement and union activists took to the streets together on Tuesday afternoon by the thousands all across France. In Paris and numerous cities, notably in Nantes, Poitiers, and Toulouse, public transport and hundreds of businesses were hit. The protest was again directed against the neoliberal financial and social policy of head of state Emmanuel Macron.”
Because Macron had called for a “big debate” in France with the intention to take away the pressure of the “yellow vests” movement, the ironic answer of the unions was a “big debate on the streets” and a nationwide general strike.
Hermann reports further that “The two largest French unions, CGT and CFDT, had kept the weekly demonstrations of the ‘yellow vests’ at a considerable distance until last weekend. CGT General Secretary Philippe Martinez and his CFDT colleague Laurent Berger had justified their distancing by the presence of ‘ultra-right groups’ during the Paris protests. On Monday, with regard to the ‘yellow vests,’ Martinez admitted: ‘This movement, which has brought us back collective action, has developed in a good direction.’ The joint strike is also considered by the Solidarity union federation as a possibility ‘to deepen the resistance to Macron’s policies ‘.”
On Monday, left-wing politicians, unionists and spokespersons for the “yellow vests” announced a “rendezvous” in a joint press conference for the following day, forging an “alliance” for all to see how an “interface” of the various social movements should take place. The important result of this meeting was that “The social revolt, unprecedented since May 1968,” had finally brought the “yellow vests” and workers’ organizations together on Tuesday.
And this solidarity is needed, for Macron, although he is talking about a “big debate” with the French people, actually is working on the extension of the so-called anti-terror law which grants powers to the prefects and to the special police units to curtail the right to demonstrate. This once again demonstrates that Macron follows a reactionary policy. Although rightwing and liberal politicians in Europe refer positively to Macron as pro-European and therefore “progressive” president the majority of the French people see him for what he is: a pro-European capitalist and reactionary. They do not allow themselves to be taken for a ride by him!
In following and looking closer to the “yellow vests” we however also have to be aware of the specific characteristics of that movement which Cédric Durand brings to the fore and to which Kevin Anderson referred: “In this movement one finds cohabiting, amid great confusion, sentiments from the left and sentiments from the right, a large mass of people with little political experience, with anticapitalist activists and fascists.” (See https://www.imhojournal.org/articles/the-french-yellow-vests-a-self-mobilized-mass-movement-with-insurrectionist-overtones/ )
As an indication of these contradictory characteristics, consider the meeting between one of Italy’s Deputy Prime Ministers, Luigi Di Maio (5 Star movement) and Christophe Chalençon on Wednesday, February 8th. Chalençon is a self-proclaimed “spokesman” of the Vaucluse region in the southeast of France and highly controversial within the “yellow vests” movement. Many see him as Islamophobic and as part of the rightwing tendency within the movement. Surely, the rightwing tendency is trying to develop a greater influence within the “yellow vests” movement with moves like this. It should be noted, however, that Di Maio did not meet with Ingrid Levavasseur, the leader of the “Rassemblement pour l’Initiative Citoyenne” (RIC) and designated top candidate for the “yellow vests” list of for the European Parliament elections in May.