The mobilisation against the ″labour law″ in France is both stepping up and facing increasing police repression.
Strikes have spread to lorry drivers, oil refineries, some dock workers and rail workers — some despite the hesitancy of union leaders. Oil refinery workers in Normandy have struck and been blocking roads, industrial estates and fuel depots.
Railworkers in some stations in Paris, Tours and Grenoble have voted in general assemblies to start an open-ended strike, despite the majority union, the CGT, still trying to hold things back to strikes only on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The day of action called by unions on 19 May saw the largest turn out by far in demonstrations nationwide. Another demonstration is planned for Thursday 26 May, the second day of a 48-hour strike of railworkers.
The government has responded by sending in police to break the pickets and blockades, and may well use the powers given to it by the state of emergency put in place after the Paris bombings to regain ″order″. Riot police were called on an occupation of the Town Hall in Rennes, and the government banned a demonstration in Nantes.
This may be a turning point in the fight against the law which has so far been hesitant and successfully held back by the union leaderships. The movement seems to be going beyond the losing strategy of the union leaders of spaced-out general strikes and demonstrations.
If the strikes continue, and more of them turn into open-ended strikes controlled by local general assemblies, more industries and workers may be drawn in.
• Commentary by French far-left group Etincelle here