French strikes: Why are protesters shutting down the country’s power?
Why is France facing paralysis?
Workers with the country’s most powerful union, the leftist CGT, are blocking six of France’s eight oil refineries, some of its fuel depots, and plan to shut down or lower output in at least six of its nuclear power plants in a bid have a new labour law scrapped.
How bad are the blockages?
Up to a third of petrol stations are running on empty while panic-buying has worsened the shortage, forcing the state to delve into its strategic petrol reserves, which could theoretically keep pumps flowing for three months.
Although almost 80 per cent of France’s electricity comes from nuclear power, experts say there will be no blackouts if a few of its 58 reactors are shut, and besides staff are under obligation to respect a minimum service.
What do unionists want?
What does the reform do?
Not much. The so-called El Khomri labour law (named after the French labour minister, Mariam El Khomri) is a modest attempt to loosen France’s labour market by, among other things, making it slightly easier to make employees redundant in hard economic times.
The aim is to encourage notoriously reticent French employers to take on more workers on permanent contracts, rather than short-term ones, without fear of being stuck with them for life or paying heavy fines at the workers’ tribunal.
It also includes provisions for negotiations on, say, working hours, to take place within individual companies rather than across sectors.
The government believes it will create thousands of jobs but the IMF and the French opposition say the reform doesn’t go nearly far enough to significantly reverse record unemployment, now at 10 per cent, and soaring public debt, due to reach 98 per cent of GDP next year.
What do the French think of it?
Three quarters of the French said they are against the law, a poll this month suggested.
How did they express their opposition?
A million people signed a petition against it in February, then mid-March, hundreds of thousands of French started nightly rallies against the bill in a movement dubbed “Nuit Debout”, or Up All Night. Unions staged seven national days of protest, with an eighth planned on Thursday.
Why has the CGT escalated the standoff?
Its leader, Philippe Martinnez, wants to burnish his credentials as a tough defender of workers’ rights among die-hard leftists at a time when the CGT is losing members.
it doesnt really matter what the issue is..its a nexus for the slaves to revolt..this time its union organised to fight against a bill..but we are seeing lots of these events now where the people are releasing energy at the governments they live under..look in south america for example..
“The aim is to encourage notoriously reticent French employers to take on more workers on permanent contracts, rather than short-term ones, without fear of being stuck with them for life or paying heavy fines at the workers’ tribunal.”