15/12/2019 by socialistfight
On December 5, one of the largest workers’ demonstrations took place in Lyon. As usual, estimates of the number of demonstrators varied from 21,000 to 35,000, which is more than five times the number of demonstrators against the laws that, in practice, liquidated the Labor Code and which, at the time, had brought more demonstrators, without being sufficient, than other “traditional” union demonstrations.
When we talk about workers’ unions, we must talk almost exclusively about the CGT because there are far fewer worker’s coming from other unions. Force Ouvrière, closely linked in Lyon to the POI (Independent Worker’s Party), only brings a few hundred militants.
There is of course the presence of other unions such as SUD and others and even could see some individuals bearing the CFDT logo but the bulk of the troops either are from the CGT or are without a label. About half CGT and half by their own.
This time, there were many demonstrators who were not unionized, or who did not display their union membership, students and some 200 Yellow Vests whose last troops were there with their vests and their slogans and songs that have already become part of the slogans of the workers’ demonstrations. “We are here for the honor of workers and for a better world” and “We don’t give up anything” were agreed everywhere.
A few Black Blocs who “succeeded” in making that the cops gazed the very much compact crowd. This could have turned into a tragedy because the cops threw very powerful gauze among the crowd that was having trouble getting away from it without risking a rush.
The local press, as is always the case, has highlighted this “violence” according to the formula it used during the first demonstrations of the Yellow Vests. It seemed like it was waiting for this. The two or three masked individuals who gave them the desired pretext and disappeared through the side streets also seemed to have only the task of provoking the police’s rather brutal reaction and then run away leaving the mass to fend for itself as it could with the gassing. Or unconscious, or the manifestation of real anger or the activity of provocateurs under orders.
Both the diversity of the demonstrators and the decision of the Prefecture to prevent demonstrators from entering the city center, as they did with the Yellow Vests, gave the demo the chopped and discontinuous form, although to a lesser extent as the demonstrations of the Yellow Vests, which were interrupted by police, stopped by long periods, gassed and charged or because the yellow vests changed course or because the police wanted to conduct the demo in places that allowed its safest repression and dissolution.
Similarly, the slogans of the CGT sound system, probably because of the will of the militants who implemented it (many of the grassroots militants are influenced by the combativity of the Yellow Vests) and override the procrastinations of the Local Unions that in before demos only broadcast music without content, full volume which brought nothing but the stop of discussions and conversations between demonstrators.
So, the slogans were political and with demands against Macron that were taken up by the demonstrators, as well as slogans and songs, as already mentioned, that came from the “Yellow Vest tradition”.
We also saw some rare eco-friendly demands and a banner to denounce the repression in Chile. Chilean workers still in the breach.
All this gave the demonstration a different look than the “union sweet-walk” to which the militants has been accustomed. Leaving at 10.30, it ended around 15 hours after a journey pointed out by gassings and stops, almost a demonstration of the Yellow Vests by the form or if you look at it differently, a CGT demonstration with other unions but with a certain air of Gilets Jaunes demonstration.
In the other cities, we must have had a lot more people. Lyon, a conservative city, is not characterized, has never been, by the number of demonstrators, so if in Lyon had, say, 5 times more people than during an average demonstration we can think that in Marseille, Toulouse and Paris and other large cities there was a crowd.
The press, clever, gives the figures at the beginning of the journey, (450,000 throughout France) always less than half of the participants when it is only a third because many of the workers join after the hour or during the parade.
Even so, the press gives demonstrations of more than 5,000 workers in third category cities (there were more than 450 cities demonstrating) which is the figure of a “good” “traditional” demonstration in Lyon.
Everyone thought about the continuation of the strike at least until Monday 9 and all criticized the “one-day union sweet-walks” while not knowing how to prevent the leaders from putting us in front of the fait accompli.
The government reacted with “calm and determination” to the challenge to the pension reform. He said he was attentive to the respect of public order (!!!) . The Prime Minister also stressed the “peaceful” nature of the protest.
This shows better than any explanation or speech what they really fear, the workers’ open, boundless anger.
Railway workers, Air France agents and Metro de Paris agents have already decided to continue the strike. (I write at 6pm).
This is a first report in the heat of my impressions on the demonstrations against the capitalists’ willingness to liquidate the pension by distribution and transform it into a funded pension that everyone rejects (66% of the population is against according to the latest surveys which, naturally, do not say a word about the brainwashing practiced by the capitalists to make people accept this historical decline in workers’ rights in France).