FRANCE IN CHAOS – Biggest and longest protests & riots since French Revolution

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As the country prepares to host two million visitors at the showpiece Euro 2016 Football Championship in less than two weeks, labor strikes at oil refineries and nuclear power plants; fuel shortages paralyzing aviation and public transport system; violent street protests; nationwide riots; and a state of emergency until the end of July to cover the Tour de France has proved a major headache for François Hollande — currently the least popular French president since polls began in France.

Explosive Trade Union Revolt Plunges France Into Chaos

The first collaborative protest against the Socialist government since Hollande came to power in 2012, kicked off on 9 March. On March 31, nearly 400,000 people took to the streets, disagreeing with the sweeping changes to labor laws; though organizers put the number at 1.2 million.

On April 9, about 120,000 people marched in Paris and across France for a sixth time, protesting against contested labor reforms. Organizers called for yet another strike on April 28, and a massive protest on May 1, Labor Day.  Reports of police officers clashing with protesters, deploying tear gas in several French cities, and protesters burning vehicles, smashing windows flooded the Internet.

In his response, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in the city of Lyon:

“I call on the organizers of these demonstrations to condemn with the same firmness that I do the unrest caused by these handful of thugs.”

Demanding a complete withdrawal of the draft reform bill, French workers stepped up protests, rallies and blockades in the third week of May.  As per the latest updates, one in three gas stations across the country run dry, causing long queues at normally well-stocked stations. There are blockades at 5 of France’s 8 oil refineries. Nearly 1/5th of nuclear power output is cut by striking staff. Since the nation’s electricity supply has dropped, the government is forced to dig into its emergency reserves.

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On May 26, more than 150,000 marched against the government’s plans to make it easier for firms to hire and fire. Reuters reports:

In the southwestern city of Bordeaux, about 100 people targeted a police station, throwing objects and damaging a police car. In Paris and in the western city of Nantes, bank windows were broken and protesters clashed with police. The next big day of protests is planned on June 14 [when French senators begin discussing the reform package], four days after the Euro 2016 soccer tournament opens in France. The CGT warned it could be disrupted if the government refuses to withdraw the draft reform bill.


Although, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is willing to modify some of the proposals, workers’ unions are unwilling to back down. Particularly angry that the government is enacting a constitutional power to bypass parliament to pass the bill, several unions led by one of the country’s largest unions, the General Confederation of Labor (or the CGT),declared in an open letter:

“This week, the actions, the strikes and the blockades by workers from a number of industries to demand the retraction of this labor bill and to obtain new rights show that our determination remains intact.”

The Controversial Labor Reform:

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1. Makes it easier for companies to lay off staff and cut costs in difficult economic times.

2. Allows companies to opt out of national labor protection rules if they reach in-house deals on pay and conditions with the consent of a majority of their staff – and not the trade unions.

3. Allows employers to extend the legal work week from current 35 hours to 48 hours – up to 60 hours with an ‘exceptional authorization’, and reduce overtime from current 25% to not less than 10%.

4. Proposes surtax on short-term contracts aimed at getting employers to hire more people on permanent contracts

5. Introduces a cap – 15 months of pay – on compensation in cases of unfair dismissal.

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Plagued by dismal popularity ratings and high unemployment, President Hollande, who staked his whole term in office on improving life for the country’s struggling youth, says the labor reform is vital to tackle joblessness. Labor Minister Myrian El Khomri, too, defends the new labor law dubbed “the bosses law” by its opponents.

This law corresponds to the situation in our country. We have an unemployment rate of over 10% the same as it was 20 years ago. It has improved over the last month, however that is not satisfactory. Our country created fewer jobs than other European countries [Between 2013 and 2015, 57,000 jobs were created in France, 482,000 in Germany, 651,000 in Spain and 288,000 in Italy.] So for me the text and the goal of this reform is to be able to just improve access to employment.”

However, opponents of the labor reform say it will threaten cherished rights and deepen job insecurity for young people by helping companies fire staff arbitrarily. Henry Samuel and Raziye Akkoc of The Telegraph observed:

The government believes it will create thousands of jobs but the IMF, and the French opposition say the reform doesn’t go nearly far enough to significantly reverse record unemployment, now at 10%, and soaring public debt, due to reach 98% of GDP next year.

What Lies Ahead

This is the first time a Socialist French government has faced a nationwide trade union rebellion in more than 30 years. The left’s opposition to the reforms has been vast, threatening to tear apart Hollande’s own support base.

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The Independent Writes:

The proposed reform has compounded the fury of many within the Socialist Party and the further left at what they see as the treacherous, rightward course of the Hollande-Valls government. The protests have been led by the former Socialist leader, and “mother” of the 35-hour week, Martine Aubry, who has resigned from all her official positions within the party. Aubry complains that the rewriting of French employment law in line with “liberal” pro-market dogma is a betrayal of the French “social contract.”

An online petition against the proposed changes has gathered over 1 million signatures, a record in France. According to a recent Le Parisien poll, a majority of French people favor labor reforms, but 70% oppose the government’s way of going about it.

It will be a political suicide for Hollande if he rolls back the labor reform – he has promised he will not run for re-election next year unless he manages to stem the rise in unemployment. But as The Guardian rightly notes, it is not just Hollande’s political survival at stake, though, but the image of France itself.


This article (Violent Protests, Labor Strikes Halt France as Hollande Attempts to Slay Workers’ Rights) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and AnonHQ.com.

22 COMMENTS

  1. I’m French and this Protest are a big shit. A part of population open her mouth to protest, but they dont read the law !

    Protestants make lot of economics blocage in France, all people can’t work…

    In France the standard employment contrat pay in Minimum 11$/Hr and 35Hr/week with 30 day of paid vacations by year.

    The Government knows that their laws block firms .
    So it gives more opportunities for businesses, but do not remove protections to employees, they will not be paid less expensive and should not work more.

    And I see lot of mistakes in your Contraversal Labor List, here.

    • Did you really read the law ? The law is made for the bosses, so they can fire more people, make the workers work more while paying them less. Every line in this law is shit and just done to make the rich getting more money and the poor paying more and getting less, while less people can work.

    • “Protestants make lot of economics blocage in France, all people can’t work…”
      ->living in France near Paris, in a french Hospital, I don’t have any problem to work, same for my friends and my family (In Paris and everywhere in France, so Paris, Rennes, Lyon, Marseille and Lourdes). The only problem I could have is reaching my future school because of the water.

      “In France the standard employment contrat pay in Minimum 11$/Hr and 35Hr/week with 30 day of paid vacations by year. ”
      -> After basic taxes it is 7.58€/hour (around 8.6$/hour).Not everybody get 30 day vacations by year, I have a CDD (short time contract), I got tons of short contract (in the same job, same boss) and worked full time (151.5 hours/month or 35 hours week execept when there was missing people, sometime getting up to 60hours/week). Have worked 4 years for them, not getting paid vacations

      “So it gives more opportunities for businesses, but do not remove protections to employees, they will not be paid less expensive and should not work more.”
      -> With the new laws, you can be fired easily if ur not able to work anymore because of your job . So for exemple, if you work as a firefighter, let’s say while saving someone, something fall on you, you can’t work as a firefighter anymore -> Before the new law, your boss had to find you another job that is ok with you (for exemple you could be hired as a secretary in an hospital. With the new law, they can fire you and you don’t get a new job easily because you’re disabled.

      ->Base salary will remain the same but with the new law (will not be true soon because of the june 1st new law), if you work more than the base 35hours/week, you will be paid 10% more (before that new law, it was +50%).

      Add the new law from June the 1st, you will have to work for 4 hours more per week legaly (with the same salary, so basicaly for the same number of hours worked a week, you theoricaly get less money because the 4 hours were paid +50%). So basicaly, you will work more and get paid less than before (if you work 39h per week or more).

      About the June 1st law, it have been voted for company that have less than 50 employees, it will be extended to bigger company soon (more than 50 employees). Of courses we will not vote for this new law, but french government does…

      If you are a math guy, I’m gonna show you maths for my personnal situation with the minimum salary (SMIC).

      Salary without salary taxes

      Before law:

      9.67 * 151.70 = 1466.939€ per month for 35h/week
      1466.94 + (16 * (9.67 * 1.5)) = 1699.02€ per month for 39h/week
      1466.94 + (100 * (9.67 * 1.5)) = 2917.44€ per month for 60h/week (doing 100hours more per month +50% salary)

      After law :

      1466.94 + (16 * 9.67) = 1621.66€ per month for 39h/week, so 70€ less than before law
      1621.66 + (84 * (9.67 * 1.1)) = 2515.168€ per month for 60h/week (doing 84 hours more per month +10% salary), so 402.27€ less than before law.

  2. Nice paper, well written.
    But as I can say from France these protests are not led by any leader, its the media who wants to put a head behind these (like Philippe Martinez, leader of CGT) : people are choosing or not to go at these protests, not dictated from any leader. However, strikes are organized by the CGT but are being locally applicated by each Nuclear central.
    This law is from the European Counsil as we can see it, they don’t want anymore of our “Code du travail” that is protecting (a few) workers from their bosses.
    On the other side there is a lot of these protesters that are not fighting only against this shitty law, they are asking for a better and different world : I’ve seen vegans, feminists, anti-Monsanto and a plethora of others dilemma to fight for.

  3. Well at least they are not paid for by GEORGE SOROS?
    Who funds the riots at the TRUMP rallies and our
    government LETS THEM!! FUCK THESE GOVERNMENTS ITS TIME TO REVOLT!!!!!!!!

  4. Half a century ago the western world governments were saying the scientific and technological advances will allow a REDUCTION of the retirement age. That is still valid today: bring the retirement age to 50, give jobs to young people and a decent income to everyone! These CAN be done if less money is spent with the military. Instead, the military and the corrupt politicians, including the whole “eu” parliament should be sent to forced labor camp, to grow organic food!

    “Keep calm and leave the e.u.!”

    Nihil sine Deo!

  5. It’s just not about NEW Labour Law…. It’s definitely a fight against corrupted French government and European Parlement Mafia ….
    IT’s A DISGRACE TO NOT DO ANYTHING AFTER THE REVELATION OF PANAMA PAPERS !!

  6. People over profit. The wealthy have enough. Give workers their share they generate the profit. Fight on workers.

  7. Thank god none of the French are protesting to end cannabis prohibition and reap millions in tax revenue. Let’s protest labor laws like in the 20’s but sacre bleu we french must keep our decades old cannabis laws!

    • Hey pity, ain’t trying to start nothing, but if you’d rather go to your local chemist and pay shitloads of money for legally prescribed opiates and amphetamines, just so you can treat one problem and give yourself another, that’s your choice! But if someone has serious medical problems, cannabis may be the only choice they have! Plus, a lot of American construction companies want it legalised so they can make hemp-crete, which is very cheap, strong and heat resistant (you can set a blowtorch to 650f and it will only be 2f on the other side!) if you’re concerned about your corrupt government reaping more tax revenue, maybe you should join the revolution and attack the problem at its root! Work together to find out where all the corporate psychopaths and bank$tas live, and ransack them!

      • @Perseus King. You’re kind of a dunce for misreading the purport of the post. It is sarcasm. Are you intentionally misinterpreting the post to add confusion about legalizing cannabis in France?? Legalize in France!! Protest to legalize cannabis in France!

  8. The Ecstatic of Tours–late 1800’s

    “Before war breaks out again food will be scarce and expensive. There will be little work for the workers and fathers will hear their children crying for food. Toward the end darkness will cover the whole world. “When everyone believes that peace has been assured, when everyone least expects it, he great happenings will begin. Revolution will break out in Italy almost at the same time as in France. For some time the Church will be without a Pope, England will have much to suffer. The Revolution will spread to nearly every French town. Wholesale slaughter will take place. This revolution will only last a few months but it shall be frightful; blood will flow everywhere because of the malice of the wicked will reach its highest pitch. Victims will be innumerous and Paris will look like a slaughterhouse. Persecutions against the Church will be even greater but it will not last long. Priests will have to go into hiding. The wicked will try to obliterate everything religious but they will not have enough time. “Many priests and bishops will be put to death. The Archbishop of Paris will be murdered. And many priests will have their throats cut as they will not have enough time to hide. The wicked will reign for one year and several months. In those days France will receive no human assistance, she will be alone and helpless. At this point the French people will turn back to God and implore the SACRED HEART of JESUS and MARY IMMACULATE.

    “The French people will ask for the Good King he will be chosen by God. He will come; this savior whom God has spared for France is dear to Gods Heart. He will ascend to the throne of France and he will free the Church and reassert the Pope’s rights.

    “The Council will meet again after the victory BUT this time men will be obliged to obey (V2 was pastoral not binding this council will be DOGMATIC and binding). There will be only one flock, one Pope; all men will acknowledge the Pope as the Universal Father and King of all peoples. Thus mankind will be regenerated.”

  9. Nothing really reported about any of this in any depth in the UK.
    I do not speak from any political viewpoint since I am libertarian in aspect & do not consent to being governed.
    Religious cults and bully leaders started the banks en-masse which introduced usury and fractional reserve bankingon an unprecedented scale, in turn funding industrialists who control government and all other vital aspects required by societies of people.

    There is only one way to fight the oppression and debt slavery we are all in and that is to educate yourselves about the mechanism we live in which is fairly rudimentary but you will never comprehend its nature through a news site mainstream or alternative.

    Remove the banks and control your own value.
    Remove the banks and remove the power that underpins the oligargical system.
    The banks are the seat of their power.
    But you have to understand how joint stock & central & international trading banks work and remove value from what you do.

    It is only the people who create value afterall!

  10. France will continue to disintegrate and almost disappear, enemies will continue to engulf her until France returns to God.
    Read the prophecies of Marie-Julie Jahenny, the stigmatist from Britanny [d. 1941] if you want to understand what the chaos is all about. Her descriptions are gripping and accurate. [the most complete are in the original French, but some has been translated into English] Until France returns to God, the entire world will continue to suffer. All the sorrows are rooted in the failure of the martyr King Louis XVI to consecrate correctly and in time France to the Sacred Heart – and then the murder of the monarch.
    Americans enjoy making fun of the ‘cowardly’ French but in reality they will end up saving the world when France leads all back to God.
    France, beautiful France – please turn your hearts.

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