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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un premier mai pour planter l’idée d’augmenter les salaires

by Laurence Mauriaucourt

A May Day to Plant the Idea of Raising Wages

Translated Sunday 3 May 2015, by Gene Zbikowski

Upping wages, hiring in order at last to share the wealth better and to do away with all forms of hard conditions imposed on employees, such were the preoccupations expressed in Paris in this year’s May Day march.

Despite the long week-end, the rain and the recent mobilizations, there was pride in being present on the pavement on this international day for the rights of workers, pride in answering the call issued by the CGT, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires trade union conventions, pride in marching from the Place de la République to the Place de la Nation.

The CGT formed the biggest contingent and it was not mistaken in using its repeated commitment against “the Macron law” and for “increases in wages and pensions and the creation of skilled jobs” as the key to “making a success” of “this day of struggle.” The slogans were unequivocally supported by every one of the demonstrators with whom we spoke.

The CGT, led by Philippe Martinez, is putting forward the proposal of creating “an investment plan for real stimulation of the economy, the promotion of public services. A different sharing of wealth and top-level social protection” are proposed in order to demand a different policy, “a different social project.” In other words, they will demand a change in the many plans to which the bosses and the government turn their backs - like the competitiveness pact, the Macron law, the bill on social dialogue and the health bill.

In a press statement issued at the end the day, the CGT summed up May Day, saying that some 301 initiatives for rallies and demonstrations brought together over 110,000 demonstrators across the country, often uniting the different trade union confederations. Even though the example was not set in Paris, it included12,000 in Paris, to demand “a different social project.” The press statement already promises “new initiatives and days of mobilization” “before summer.”

Several demonstrators deplored the fact that the CFDT trade union confederation chose to organize “its celebration” in Vincennes. “In socks on a fine parquet floor and only open those under 36 – it’s shameful!” said Patrick, a CGT member from the Val du Marne.

Besides the trade union organizations, no one could overlook the presence of many associations. These would include the Droit au logement [Right to Housing], Osez le féminisme [Dare to be Feminist], le Secours populaire [a charitable organization], les Amis de la Terre [Friends of the Earth] and of left-wing political parties (French Communist Party, Party of the Left)

“The workers don’t just talk about Labor, you know, even though everything’s linked. When you’re out of work or haven’t got a decent income, you’ve got to fight for everything,” stated Lucia, who described herself as “a feminist activist who’s always on the go.”

The Paris march featured the delegations of representatives from the Greek party Syrisa and the Spanish party Podemos. Turkey, Algeria, and many Latin American countries were also represented. One must also note a strong mobilization of undocumented workers.

The F.O. trade union confederation, which did not agree with the demands, chose to demonstrate separately in the French capital this year.

In its Monday issue, l’Humanité will go into detail on the motivations of the demonstrators who came from on-the-job struggles in various regions of France.

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