3 Million March In French Protests Over Labor Law Changes By Conservative French Government
Unlike the U.S., the students and workers of France are willing to protest the antilabor actions of the conservative French Chirac government that would make it easy for employers to layoff workers under 26 in the first two years of employment. The claims are that this needed to for France to better "globally" compete with the world, which are right wing code words for the intended outsourcing of jobs to labor cheap states like China and India. Under the conservative Chirac government, 10% of French workers now suffer from unemployment. Outsourcing of jobs will only worsen the blight of French workers.
It has been the steady goal of the conservative Chirac government to pander to the big corporate interests just like the Bush Administration has proved to be masters of. However, with strong and viable Communist and Socialist organizations and strong labor unions, French workers are able to use the power of public strikes and demonstrations to assert worker's rights power that are reacting to the steady roll back of labor protections enacted under the former Socialist leader, Francoise Mitterand.
In the U.S. the power and influence of Socialist and Communist organizations that fought against the huge depression-era unemployment of the early thirties largely disappeared with the labor reforms enacted under Franklin Roosevelt such as the WPA and the NRA. But this gradually gave way to worker complacency, and a decline in worker respect for labor unions as a vital tool to counter the awesome power of management. In the Democratic Party, large corporate donors gradually watered down support for prolabor legislation.
By the late 70's when Hubert Humphrey was dying of cancer, he was only able to get a symbolic version of his Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Bill passed in a heavily Democratic congress. This bill had no teeth to make the full employment, figured at only 3% a national priority for the American government and working people of the U.S.
Today the government of the U.S. is heavily dominated by big corporate power, and both the Republicans and many Democrats are the tools of this power, where the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour since 1997.
By comparison home prices increased by over $30,000 just last year alone in cities like Portland, Oregon. And affordable housing for low wage working people is becoming very scarce. Gasoline has spiked to nearly $3.00 a gallon after Hurrican Katrina, and is now back on the way up to near $3.00 a gallon by this summer as tensions with Iran and Nigeria drive up the world commodity market prices for a barrel of oil to over $65.50 as of this morning. An increase of over $1.30 since yesterday. Yet the minimum wage of working people remains stuck at the federal level. But some states such as Oregon actually have seen a rapid increase in job growth with an steady series of increases in the minimum wage to the second highest level in the nation.
Workers in France see events such as the weak state of labor unions in the U.S. and a right wing government that panders to outsourcing of American jobs to labor cheap states such as China or India, and with a 10% unemployment rate in France, nearly double the U.S. rate, workers and students are very wary of any change to Franch labor law that will make job outsourcing far easier by allowing workers under 26 to be face easy layoffs and increased threats of outsourcing to labor cheap states.
Whether workers in France will succeed in preventing the loss of French jobs to outsourcing remains to be seen. But unlike American workers, such as those at GM who are suffering fresh job layoffs from the same GM CEO who made an early priority the raising of his salary into the millions of dollars, French workers are willing to engage in a class struggle for survival against the wealthy class interests who see wage labor as a mere commodity to achieve high profits, while a job is an important difference between being homeless and starving or not for the French working class.