Weeks of strikes, protests and demonstrations have brought much of France to a standstill as workers, students and others voice their strong opposition to a government proposal to raise the age for a minimum pension from 60 to 62. A quarter of the nation’s gas stations were out of fuel, hundreds of flights were canceled, long lines formed at gas stations and train services in many regions were cut in half. Protesters blockaded Marseille’s airport, Lady Gaga canceled concerts in Paris and rioting youths attacked police in Lyon. The unpopular bill is edging closer to becoming law as the French Senate is preparing to vote on it today. Collected here are recent images of the unrest around France. Update: Pension reform bill just now passed by French senate. (40 photos total)
A man holds a placard which reads “Listen to the public’s rage” during a demonstration in front of the French Senate in Paris October 20, 2010. French trade unions kept up their resistance on Wednesday to an unpopular pension reform due for a final vote in the Senate this week. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
While Americans waste their time discussing what position they’ll be in as they continued to get screwed by the bank bailouts and/or tweaking the reactionary education reform mess of No Child Left Behind students in Italy are saying “NO” to the Berlusconi government’s plan to impose business models on public services such as schools and universities that will see the disappearance of nearly 100,000 teaching positions in the next three years:
This “euthanasia of the universities”, as Gaetano Azzariti, professor of constitutional law at Rome university, calls it, was a political decision, sacrificing teaching and research to sectors of the economy. It means that for a university to hire a new lecturer now, two others have to leave its payroll. And it means more private sector funding in universities and higher tuition fees, leading to increased levels of debt for the poorest students. And on August 28, education minister Mariastella Gelmini presented another executive order, setting out budget cuts and plans to return to single teachers in primary schools (each class is normally taught by several different teachers), meaning a shorter school day for children (and reducing parents’ ability to go out to work). Other measures aimed to revive old practices, such as marks for behavior up to secondary level.
Since the start of the school year in September 2008, a national movement of parents, teachers and students resisting the neoliberal reforms of the Berlusconi government formed under the banner of “Non rubateci il futuro” (Don’t steal our future) and have spawned huge demonstrations and university occupations and general strikes.
“What’s developing is the self-organization of university students and casual workers,” explained Aliocha, a literature student at La Sapienza university who is also a casual in a bank. “Some people combine being casual workers and students or researchers, others are just casual workers. Together with the rank and file unions, we started the October 17 strike, and organized it in workplaces where job insecurity is an everyday reality.”