Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

 Refinery workers stepped up strikes that threaten to paralyse France weeks ahead of the Euro 2016. (Credit: AFP)

Protests Intensify, Spread Across France as Workers Refuse Submission

'What we want today is for this movement to spread,' says unionist.

Andrea Germanos

Amid ongoing blockades and intensifying clashes with police, protests against President François Hollande's controversial set of labor reforms deepened on Thursday as workers in France's nuclear plants joined the hundreds of thousands of people taking part in a nationwide strike.

Fueled by "a groundswell of public anger," as the Associated Press put it, the strikes have already shut down France's gas stations forced the country to dip into reserve petrol supplies.

"After oil refinery shutdowns, " Euronews reports, "Thursday's strikes at nuclear sites have taken the stand-off one stage further. Power cuts are not expected but tension is growing as France prepares to host the Euro 2016 football tournament in two weeks time."

Sixteen out of the countries 19 nuclear plants voted to join the strike, AP reports.

In addition to clashes in Paris, where police fired tear gas at demonstrators, the Guardian reports "that sreet marches took place in towns and cities across France, including Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes." Scores of people were arrested.

On Twitter:

As Common Dreams previously reported:

Hollande's severely unpopular proposals allow employers to more easily fire workers and create precarious, poorly paid positions in place of permanent contracts. Critics also charge that the reforms are designed to make it easier for corporations to move jobs offshore and increase workers' hours without overtime pay.

The reforms provoked the nation's Nuit Debout ("Up All Night") protest movement to form in March, and the country has seen widespread demonstrations and mass rallies since then.

While saying that there could be "modifications, improvements" to the law, Prime Minister Manuel Valls doubled down on the reforms, saying, "changing course is out of the question."

According to Mathieu Pinault of the CGT union, ditching the law is the right move.

"What we want today is for this movement to spread," he said. "All the other sectors in France seem decided to stop the factories, to paralyze the economy, so we really think that we have a wide movement which will continue with the will to impact the economy. So, in all logic, it should force the government to withdraw this bill, which isn't at all in everyone's interest."

CGT also sparked the ire of newspaper editors on Thursday when it blocked the publication of nearly all the country's national papers after they did not submit to the union's demand that they publish an op-ed by its leader, Philippe Martinez, calling for the government to ditch its labor proposal.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'A No-Brainer': Lawmakers Urge Pelosi to Hold Vote on Stock Trading Ban

"Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities," said House members in a bipartisan letter. "We don't care."

Jessica Corbett ·


Virginia Schools Sue Youngkin Mandate Making Masks Optional

The Republican governor wants to allow parents to decide whether their children should wear masks to school to mitigate Covid-19 transmission—guidance at least 58 school districts have no plans to follow.

Julia Conley ·


US Puts Troops on Standby as War Tensions Over Ukraine Mount

The U.K. threatens "lightning war" as military forces mobilize in eastern Europe.

Andrea Germanos ·


Advocacy Group Urges Pfizer to Combat Paxlovid Inequality

"Help end the pandemic this year around the world," one advocate told Pfizer. "Not just in a handful of rich countries."

Kenny Stancil ·


260+ Companies Demand 'Big, Bold Action' on Clean Energy

"The time to act is now," the firms wrote in a letter to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo