France shaken by mass protests


France shaken by mass protests

19 November 2018

On Saturday, protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s fuel tax hike saw an elemental outpouring of pent-up anger against social inequality. After a series of calls for protests and road blockades in social media in recent weeks, 287,710 people wearing yellow vests joined 2,034 blockades and go-slow operations across France. Last night, tens of thousands were still protesting a measure that would break the monthly budgets of workers commuting to their jobs.

They are part of an international wave of protests spreading across Europe. In Belgium, protesters are blockading oil refineries in solidarity with the French protests, while fuel tax protests have also erupted in Bulgaria and Serbia. Amid an upsurge of the class struggle in Europe, there are ferry strikes and a public sector strike against the pro-austerity Syriza government in Greece; the Bucharest metro strike; and Amazon and Ryanair strikes in Germany and across the continent.

Broad opposition to existing social conditions is mounting. “For the average Frenchman who works and gets a wage, it is getting really hard. … We are proud to pay our taxes, but this is too much,” one protester told BFM TV. He added that he is opposing problems that accumulated “over decades,” to cries of “Macron resign” from protesters holding signs saying “No to the president of the rich.”

Three-quarters of French people support the protests, amid anger at austerity, Macron’s cuts to pensions, and his decision to tax workers while slashing the Tax on Wealth (ISF) on millionaires.

“The fuel tax was the feather that broke the camel’s back, but it goes far beyond that,” protesters near Marseille told the WSWS. “We are sure there are other solutions, we are tired…

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