This week we’ll be talking about the recent wave of general strikes by French students and workers, which ground the country to a halt. In some cases literally, as when dock workers refused to unload ships, and oil refinery workers joined the strike causing gas stations to close and planes to remain stuck at the airport. The protests are a response to President Nicholas Sarkozy’s attempts to ‘reform’ the retirement and pensions laws in France. In essence, Sarkozy’s plan pushes the retirement age back by two years as well as the age that French workers can get retirement benefits. The strikes have been accompanied by student walkouts across France. Sarkozy’s ‘reforms’ are not an isolated incident, but just one of many cuts to social programs that the French government has declared necessary to survive the economic crisis. These sorts of cuts are a model for politicians in the US who are more and more looking toward austerity measures in order to restore profits in the US economy. Are the strikes in France relevant to us here in the US? What kind of lessons can we draw from them? Join us for a discussion on Thursday at 7:30pm in Hamilton, room 603.
Here are two articles from socialistworker.org that we’ll be discussing:
French lessons: The lessons of the struggle against Sarkozy’s pension “reform” apply beyond France.
October 27, 2010
The revolt shaking France: An interview with Charles-André Udry
October 22, 2010
See you there!