10, December 2019
For many December 9th was the true start of France’s general strike. The strike began on December 5th, but the country had expected for unprecedented shutdowns through the weekend.
Many waited to see if the strikes would continue when the new work week started, and the answer it is in: it was Black Monday.
Record morning traffic jams were caused by heavy rains, as commuters couldn’t walk or bicycle to work. Nearly 90% of trains continue to be shut down, buses were at half capacity and 20% of flights were cancelled.
President Emmanuel Macron held a crisis cabinet meeting Sunday night to devise ways to undermine the strikers.
The last general strike, in 1995, was also against pension reform, but this time the right-wing government wants to change the entire system, and to a globally-unprecedented one-size-fits-all model.
Polls show that nearly 70% of France does not trust Macron to change something as important as the pension system. However, the man known as the “president of the rich” has shown that he’s not just willing to ignore democratic public opinion, but also willing to brutally represent dissenters.
Many private sector workers are striking, but public sector workers are leading the way, because they have more legal protection from getting fired just for going on strike. Transportation workers are so committed to the strike because they usually work outside in the elements, or underground, and surrounded by polluted air – few could stay healthy doing such difficult work until the age of 64, as Macron is demanding. Rail workers announced they will keep striking until at least Friday.
December 10th will see a second day of nationwide union-led protests, with more than a million people expected on the streets for the second time in less than a week.