Violent protest against unemployment is spreading in France, particularly in the depressed coal and steel regions of Lorraine near the Luxembourg and West German borders.
Violent protest against unemployment is spreading in France, particularly in the depressed coal and steel regions of Lorraine near the Luxembourg and West German borders. Occupations of factories and public buildings, blockades of roads and railways and clashes between workers and police have multiplied in the (northern) winter months. The protests culminated in a one-day national stoppage in the steel industry on Friday (February 16).
SYNOPSIS: The steelworkers vowed to cause maximum economic disruption and force the French government to reconsider it plans to trim employment in the industry. The one-day strike is the climax to two months of angry protests against the proposed sacking of 21,000 men. The redundancies would be felt worst here in the Lille-Valenciennes region, and also in the province of Lorraine. This demonstration passed peacefully.
The protest challenges the economic austerity programme devised by Prime Minister Raymond Barre to reduce inflation, restore the trade balance and stabilise the france. The authority of the unions is also challenged. They have been unable to prevent some workers from using force to defend their right to work.
The day-long protest at the French government's plans met with wide support. The main roads from France to Luxembourg and belgium were blocked. In northern France most cities were without public transport and postal services, and schools, shops and hospitals were closed in solidarity with the steel workers. From early morning marchers were in the streets in at least ten towns chanting anti-government slogans and demanding the creation of new jobs.