Date: Wed, 31 Dec 97 10:29:15 CST
From: Christophe <> (by way of Ludo <>)
Subject: FRANCE / unemployed actions and occupations
Article: 24862

Unemployed actions and occupations

Marches europeennes contre le chomage, [31 December 1997]

FRANCE / Pressure on the government stepped up on all fronts by the jobless and the socially excluded.

Throughout December, actions have escalated by the jobless and the socially excluded in France. This has been due to a combination of mobilisations.

Firstly, a series of occupations of job centres (ASSEDICs). This official institution is run jointly by the unions/companies, controls unemployment benefits system. These occupations are made to support demands for a Christmas bonus. Before the suppression of the Fonds Sociaux, an annual distribution was made via job centres of these funds and given directly to the jobless according to their debts. The demand that this tradition be continued started in Marseille, (where the unemployment rate is very high with extensive poverty in the 2nd largest French city). Marseille was once a major port on the Mediterranean. The GCT Committee of the unemployed are a well organised group and started campaigning for their annual Christmas bonus in November. Action then spread to other towns and cities, groups of unemployed combined forces (often AC!, MNCP, and APEIS). The result was demonstrations and occupations throughout France. So far Marseille is still occupying 8 job centres for the last 18 days and Arras 1(north of France). Paris has made many brave attempts but has been foiled by systematic closing of job centres regardless of the people inside or sending in the CRS (riot police) within an hour.

Secondly, the organisation of a week of action based on the theme of Urgent Social Needs between December 15 and 21. This involved all types of associations and trade unions. Associations such as AC! MNCP, APEIS, DAL and CDSL. The last two being associations defending the right to housing and the badly housed. Droits Devants, (DD!!) fights against all forms of exclusion and CADAC, a militant feminist organisation. The trade unions involved were FSU (education), CGT Finance, the Group of 10, (including SNUI and SUD groups), and the Tous Ensemble wing of the CFDT.

The overall theme was the fight against social inequalities, particularly pertinent at the onset of winter.

The week was split up into various themes :

All the above mentioned actions, especially the occupations of the ASSEDICs have been closely followed by the media (all channels televised news programmes has repeatedly filmed and commented on these events; the two leading national dailies, from the 19/12/97 onwards in particular, Le Monde and Libération have made them front page news and given them full page spread with background information. Occupation of ASSEDICs in the South of France now enters into its third week. The Christmas season has certainly added to the dramatic and emotional appeal of the jobless' actions.

Government reactions to this groundswell of actions are :

These new governement policies are an encouraging sign, because they show that our demands have been taken notice of, yet they are remain insufficient in view of the wide range of urgent social needs. Consequently, associations and trade unions will redouble their efforts in the coming days. A day of action is planned for January 14, 1998.