French Labour law fight falls foul of State of Emergency

Submitted by Matthew on 27 July, 2016 - 11:39 Author: Olivier Delbeke

The first phase of an intense four-month mobilisation against France’s Labour Law Bill came to a close when the Bill was adopted by the government, by means of the use, for the third time, of Article 49-3 of the French Constitution, which allows the forced passage through parliament of a Bill without the possibility to debate or amend it.

The government has got its way, but at the price of a terrible piece of blackmail, on the social front as well as on the civil liberties front. Incapable of protecting the population from the attacks of Islamist terrorists, the government has been incapable of doing anything but attacking the right to demonstrate, under the cover of the State of Emergency. No order came for a trade union mobilisation on 20 July, given that strangely the date of 15 September has been chosen by the inter-union co-ordinating committee (the Intersyndicale) as the first day of action after the summer.

Certainly, in July, most left activists and trade unionists are thinking more about holidays and some well-earned rests. Certainly, France has just suffered the terrible Nice attack of 14 July [and on 26 July an attack on a church in Rouen]. But, we should not overlook the timid vision that the union leaders have for trade union mobilisations.

If the government has now three times brought its entire authority to bear on the question of the Labour Law, it is because this government was certain that its fate was linked to the fate of the Law. And a lack of will to undermine the government meant that the union leaders deprived themselves of the means of stopping the passage of this anti-social Bill. The return of the social movements after the summer will only be successful if they are able to put firmly on the agenda a political will to fight this bosses’ government to the finish.

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