Signs of the Times: A million French workers march on 'Black Thursday'



(Jean-Paul Pelissier /Reuters)

After a big and noisy march through central Paris, union leaders claimed a triumph for what they depicted as the biggest day of protest for a decade

Charles Bremner UK Times correspondent in Paris reports on a the one-day  union action  last Thursday.  French public sector workers took to the streets to protest Pres. Sarkozi's handling of the economic slump. About a million French workers staged a one-day strike yesterday and hundreds of thousands took to the streets, in a show of force against President Sarkozy and his handling of the economic slump. France is experiencing  its highest unemployment rate since the 1970s. Railways and subways were shut down, hospital staffs were at a minimum and schools were without teachers as the workers bitterly demonstrated. The automobile indsutry has been hard hit, with younger workers are the hardest hit by the unemployment.

The stoppage, mainly by public sector workers, closed many schools but failed to paralyse public transport as the strikers had hoped. The Paris transport system remained about 75 per cent normal. But quiet stations and roads around the capital and other cities showed that many people had stayed at home for what had been billed as “Black Thursday”.

After a big and noisy march through central Paris, union leaders claimed a triumph for what they depicted as the biggest day of protest for a decade. The high point came when a huge crowd packed the Place de l’Opéra at the heart of the Right Bank, and sang The Internationale, the old revolutionary anthem.

The main unions, in rare harmony, estimated that 2.5 million had demonstrated around the country, with 380,000 in Paris. The Interior Ministry put the total at 1.08 million, with 65,000 in the capital.

In neighboring Germany, railway workers’ unions Transnet and GDBA also held a one-day warning strike

There is also labor unrest in the UK where the protest centers on the Total Oil company's hiring an Italian-based contractor who plans to take on foreign workers. Unofficial strikes that started at a Total SA refinery in northeast England have spread to other energy facilities. Around 600 contract workers at Lindseyare stiking in protest of Total's awarding of a construction subcontract to Italy-based company IREM, which intends to bring in its own staff from abroad rather than use local workers. Jacobs is the main contractor for the construction project.Around 150 people were taking part in the protest after overnight snowfall across England, said a spokeswoman for the Humberside police and the Lindsey strike sparked walkouts by contractors across many U.K. oil refineries, power plants and other energy facilities. Bloomberg carries the story

This isn't just a European phenomena. The  UK Times reports on growing unrest in the industrial belt of China as they face a production slow down as consumer demand in the US and elsewhere decreases. This has stiffened the Chinese government in rejecting US demands that they raise the value of the Yuan.

Bankruptcies, unemployment and social unrest are spreading more widely in China than officially reported, according to independent research that paints an ominous picture for the world economy.

... snip ...

The instability may peak when millions of migrant workers flood back from celebrating the Chinese new year to find they no longer have jobs. That spells political trouble and there are already signs that the government’s $585 billion stimulus package will not be enough to achieve its goal of 8% growth this year.

No votes yet


Have French unions ever said that all workers should know accounting?  What would that do to consumerism?  What would happen if workers didn't need jobs?


Is that why unions don't bring it up?


Double-entry accounting is 700 years old.  The $500 Asus Eee PC is about 3 times as poweful and the IBM 3033 maiframe that cost $3,000,000 in 1980.  It only took 32 megabytes of memory.  The Asus comes with 32 TIMES that much memory.  Didn't corporations use that computer to do their accounting back in 1980?  These computers are a global revolution of the mind just waiting to happen if people figure out what to do with them.


Don't expect the corporations to tell us what to do with them.

Kill an economist for Karl