The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle

Greeman, Richard

Publisher:  The Bullet
Date Written:  20/05/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23720

A look at the Yellow Vest movement in France after six months. Although they avoid structures of formal organizations they are converging with several other groups.




Six months ago, on November 17, 2018, Yellow Vests burst 'out of nowhere', with autonomous local units springing up all over France like mushrooms, demonstrating on traffic circles (roundabouts) and toll-gates, marching every Saturday in cities, including Paris. But unlike all previous revolts, it was not Paris-centered. The humid November soil from which these mushrooms sprouted was the near-universal frustration of French people at the abject failure of the Confédération générale du travail (CGT) and other unions to effectively oppose Macron’s steam-roller imposition last Spring of his historic Thatcherite 'reforms': an inflexible neoliberal program of cutting benefits, workplace rights, and privatizing or cutting public services, while eliminating the so-called Wealth Tax designed to benefit the poor....

Workers have also played an important role, many of them active as opponents of the bureaucracy in their unions. Red CGT stickers on Yellow Vests are now frequent sights at demos. Philippe Martinez, the General Secretary of the CGT, who has heretofore been sarcastic and negative about the Yellow Vests, has now been forced to admit that the cause of their rise was the failure of the unions, "a reflection of all the union deserts." He was referring to "small and medium size businesses, retired people, poverty people, jobless people, and lots of women" (the demographic of the Yellow Vests) that the unions have ignored.
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