Executive Intelligence Review


The Mass Strike Ferment Continues To Spread in France

PARIS, Nov. 21 (EIRNS)—The Yellow Vests movement—named for the highway safety vests that European motorists must have—continued its deployments nationwide, following the very successful actions Saturday, Nov. 17, with fewer people during the workweek, but with the same determination and new tactics. On Tuesday, Nov. 20, according to the government, 27,000 barricades were set up by the Yellow Vests nationwide, this time targeting the major highways and also key gas stations. The government moved in to remove the blockades on Nov. 19 and 20, but actions are continuing today and the demand is increasingly circulating among the Yellow Vests for a major demonstration at Place de la Concorde in Paris on Saturday, Nov. 24. The government is trying to stop it on the pretext that it is very difficult to ensure security there.

Most important, however, has continued to grow and to draw support from other sectors of the working population, in a typical mass strike development. Yesterday the first major trade union endorsed the movement, the transport section of the Force Ouvrière national trade union, the third largest confederation. The union head called on all its members, chauffeurs, logistics etc., not to go on strike, but to act to expand the movement. Already on Nov. 17, many had joined spontaneously the Yellow Vests in the blockades, to help them organize, including in security measures and managing a mass movement. Since Saturday, the movement has also been joined by farmers, who deploy with their tractors, and by fishermen, whose energy costs and cost of living have escalated massively.

The government is trying to discredit the movement by playing up isolated acts of violence, as well as a single incident in which a woman whose car was surrounded by Yellow Vests and blocked from moving, panicked and drove her way through, killing one of the demonstrators. The Yellow Vest movement is, on the whole, a spontaneous movement, which lacks experience in handling a mass movement.

The Association of French Mayors (AMF), the only class of elected officials whom the population still respect and trust, has lost trust with French President Emmanuel Macron and his government. The AMF are now holding their annual congress in Paris, and for the first time, the President of France, is not attending. Fearing the hostility and the heckling he would get, Macron tried to pull a fast one on the Mayors Association, by inviting a leading group of them to come dine with him at the Elysée instead. Several mayors who occupy high positions in national municipal organizations rejected the invitation. Just prior to the AMF Congress, a poll was published showing that half the French mayors are considering not running for reelection in the next term, because of the heinous conditions which have been created for them in the last years. On the one hand, the level of juridical responsibility of mayors has been reinforced, giving citizens the possibility of suing mayors, often for illegitimate reasons.

At the same time, the 2008 crisis aggravated the exodus of rural people to the larger cities, resulting in closed schools, public transport, coffee shops, bakeries, and medical facilities. On top of this, the successive national governments have eliminated local housing and real estate taxes which the mayors had used for local investments, the loss of which Paris is not reimbursing. Worse, because of the budget austerity imposed by the EU, the state has sharply reduced its contribution to the local governments during the last period. This has resulted in a situation, in which mayors, who often worked without pay, considering the job a contribution to public welfare, now are disgusted and want to quit!