The French October ― massive mobilizations in defense of working class gains

France is on fire. A new wave of working class mobilizations that threaten to spread beyond France began October 12. This new fire was ignited by the proposal of right wing President Sarkozy to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. As of this writing, strikes are shutting down important sectors of the economy.

The capitalist press is following the news closely since the international business class recognizes that this hot, militant French October could do great damage to their pockets. Actually, the new wave of strikes will inspire workers in other countries to mobilize against economic austerity and government policies that seek to get rid of working class gains.

In the U.S., Business Week reported that:

“The strikes have hobbled trains, buses, airports, schools, hospitals, government offices and other facilities sporadically for weeks. But unions’ decision to target oil refineries and fuel depots has proved the most worrisome tactic, with the potential to hurt the airline and tourism industries – and ultimately, France’s image on the world stage.”

In England, The Guardian did not shy away from making an analogy with the May ’68 strikes:

“Since 1968, governments have been forced to cave in on reforms because of the volatile presence of la jeunesse dans la rue [the youth].”We could have another May 1968,” sociologist Michel Fize told Le Parisien last week. “The situation now resembles it. A big social movement is perhaps emerging.”

The business writer from the Associated Press traces the beginnings of the latest mobilizations and reports on solidarity actions across different sectors of the labor movement:

Rail unions, which have been on strike since early last week, have prolonged their walkouts through Tuesday to coincide with more than 200 street protests – the sixth nationwide protests in about a month.

Union leaders also called for support strikes from other sectors, including energy, postal workers and private commerce, as well as from employees at Eurotunnel, which runs freight and passengers under the English Channel”

This is great news for the French labor movement and the international working class.  Vive le Français Octobre! Long live the French October!