Strikes and protests swept France on Tuesday as the grassroots gilet jaune (Yellow Vest) movement and trade unionists came together for the first time in significant numbers.
The Yellow Vests have put tens of thousands of people onto the streets every Saturday for 12 weeks in a row.
A movement that began over fuel prices has grown into a confrontation with French president Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal agenda. Authorities have adopted a strategy of making concessions and seeking to repress demonstrations. Macron has been forced into offering concessions, including an increase in the minimum wage and a U-turn on his proposed fuel tax. At the same time the government has responded violently to the protests. A French court ruled last Friday that police could continue to launch rubber projectiles the size of golf balls at demonstrators, despite them causing injuries including lost eyes and broken limbs. Macron has continued with his arrogance branding the protesters thugs and comparing them to football hooligans.
In a significant development this week protesters linked with strikes that had been called as a result of rank and file pressure on union leaders.
The main CGT union federation, the smaller Solidaires union federation, the school students’ union and the university students’ union called for the action on Tuesday.
And union branches from some other federations joined their call.
Many union activists are calling for a general strike to topple Macron.