Jack Rasmus interviews Alan Benjamin, eyewitness to developing events in France, where workers and students are protesting and striking against government attempts to impose by edict changes in France’s labor code that will allow corporations to fire and lay off workers more easily, undermine unions and collective bargaining, and privatize broad sectors of the French economy. Traveling to France on numerous occasions in recent months, and just returning from a week ago, Benjamin describes the growing opposition in France to the so-called ‘labor market reforms’ imposed by Presidential edict by the Hollande government there. Growing one day, rolling strikes, and spreading student-worker protests across the country are resulting in growing government violence against the protestors. Discussions are intensifying within France’s labor union federations to consider a general strike to get the government to back off of its proposed labor ‘reforms’. A recent country-wide poll in France shows 78% opposed to the reforms, as the government declares it will not back down. Jack explains how ‘labor market reform’ in France and Europe today is a reflection of similar changes in jobs occurring globally—including shift to part time, temp, contract work, offshoring and relocation of full time employment to emerging markets, shift to low pay/no benefits service work, and emerging trends like ‘gig’ economy, no pay internships, and privatization of social benefits.
Alan Benjamin is a delegate of the San Francisco Labor Council and member of the OPEIU, who works in Europe and the US. He is also a member of the US ‘Labor Fightback Network’ of unionists in the US. More information on events in France is available at www.laborfightbacknetwork.org and at www.socialistorganizer.org.