(Paris) Tens of thousands of people marched in Paris on Sunday at the initiative of the left-wing opposition, which hopes to contribute to the “building of a new popular front” in France due to fuel shortages. strike
Updated yesterday at 3:33 pm.
This “march against the high cost of living and climate inaction” brought together 140,000 people according to organizers, 30,000 according to police and 29,500 according to a Cabinet attendance count for a media group including AFP.
“It’s a great union, we’re starting it with this march,” welcomed Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the opposition party La France Insoumise (LFI), speaking from a truck in the middle of the crowd, before declaring “the formation of a new popular front that will take power in the country when the time comes.”
Coming to power in 1936, this left-wing coalition made history by approving massive wage increases and creating the first paid holidays.
Mr. Mélenchon also called for a “general strike” next Tuesday, broadcasting calls in this direction, especially in transport (French railways, Paris metro, dockers) and public service.
“Better Distribution of Wealth”
In the procession, representatives of all left-wing parties, as well as the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature, all traveled to Ernaux.
“The message is simple: we want to share the wealth better,” said Olivier Fauré of the Socialist Party (PS).
For Christopher Savidan, 47, unemployed for five years and an LFI activist, “It’s time to wake up. The people on the top floor are above ground. We pay taxes, we don’t know why, everything goes wrong. Logic dictates that all struggles must come together”.
Many “yellow shirts” but also many retirees appeared in a colorful parade, punctuated with songs.
While the demonstration went off without any serious clashes, an AFP journalist noted that there were some scuffles on the sidelines of the parade. Several charges and tear gas were used after the police threw projectiles in their direction. Men wearing black clothes and masks robbed the bank branch.
Public Accounts Minister Gabriel Attal denounced “the march by supporters who are blocking the country”. The reference is to the ongoing strike over wages at oil group Total Energies’ refineries and depots, which began nearly three weeks ago and is causing fuel shortages affecting operations in several sectors.
Speaking on television in the evening, Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne did not comment on the performance. But she tried to minimize any contagion in advance: “I say clearly, all companies that can open negotiations and raise wages must meet the expectations of employees”.
According to the government, almost one in three service stations (27.3%) did not have at least one product on Saturday. In the Paris region, the situation is even more tense, with 39.9% of service stations in trouble.
Along with motorists and especially health professionals who continued their search for fuel across France this weekend, many farmers fear they will not be able to sow their winter cereals in time, especially in the north.
Despite a wage deal with the two majority unions, the CGT union extended the strike for the Normandy refinery near Le Havre (north-west), France’s largest, until Tuesday and for Donges (west) until Wednesday.
Mr. Atal on Sunday ruled that “it is unacceptable that the obstruction continues despite finding majority agreement to reassess wages in companies”.
“This is not a general strike, there are limits to the right to strike”, attacked the president of the employers’ union (Medef), Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux, “taking 150 French hostages from the refineries » and that it is necessary to “pass the demands”.
The CGT therefore intends to organize until Tuesday, as other unions (FO, Solidaires and FSU) have also called.
Jacques Montal, a retired railway protester, said the requests at Esso-ExxonMobil “go too far”. “Today is the first step, I think there will be a strong movement on Tuesday. And it is likely to continue after Tuesday.