The labour and social struggle in France, confronting the pension cuts: Palestine is present!

Throughout the cities and towns of France, mass mobilizations, one-day general strikes and ongoing labour actions have mobilized tens and hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to defend labour rights against the pension “reform” plan that aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and increase the number of years a person must work in order to earn a full pension. The proposed measures are rejected by 93% of working people in France.

The trade union movement has made clear that it will not allow the crisis of French capitalism and imperialism to be resolved on the backs of working people. As three mass strikes have taken to the streets since 19 January 2023, these mobilizations have not been limited entirely to domestic concerns. Anti-imperialist organizers, including Palestine liberation campaigners, have been involved and present in the strikes across France.

The Collectif Palestine Vaincra, a member organization of the Samidoun Network, has been involved in supporting all three strike days, and throughout that time, trade unionists, youth and labour organizers have also made clear that they recognize that Palestine is a workers’ and social justice issue.

On 7 February, hundreds of students marching in the youth and student march as part of the general strike that day in Toulouse which brought nearly 80,000 people to the streets, expressed their support for Palestine as they passed the stand of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, which distributed thousands of leaflets denouncing French complicity with the Israeli occupation.

In Tarbes, the Collectif 65 pour la libération de Georges Abdallah joined the demonstrations, calling for the liberation of Palestine and of Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Communist struggler for Palestine imprisoned in France for over 38 years.

Many participants in Toulouse also expressed their support for the immediate release of Georges Abdallah and participated in a solidarity photo campaign for the longest-held political prisoner in Europe.

Amid the strike action, Collectif Vacarme(s) Films, the directors of “Fedayin: Georges Abdallah’s Fight“, have made the film freely available for organizations hosting events to benefit strike funds, along with other films focusing on Palestine and liberation struggles.

Solidarity initiatives with Palestine were also present in Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris, Grenoble, Clermont-Ferrand, Annecy, Marseille and Rennes. This built upon the mobilization of 31 January, which also drew 80,000 to the streets in Toulouse alone and elicited wide support for Palestine from workers and youth visiting the stand of the Collectif Palestine Vaincra.

In addition to displaying flags and banners for Palestine and Georges Abdallah, activists also highlighted the role of French corporations in complicity with the Israeli occupation, including the recent expansion of the Carrefour Group in occupied Palestine, in particular in multiple illegal settlements in Palestine’s West Bank.

Demonstrators expressed their solidarity with Jenin after the massacre that was committed by the occupation forces killing 9 Palestinians, and several contingents in the mass march took up slogans for Palestine as they passed by the outreach table.

During all of these actions, which began on 19 January, the Collectif has issued a statement highlighting the links between the workers’ struggle in France and the Palestinian cause:

Why are we advocating for Palestine in the mobilization to protect pensions? Fighting for social justice is also supporting the Palestinian people!

In Palestine, Israeli colonization continues with ever increasing violence. Israel’s newly elected far-right government has made clear its intentions to further intensify the policy of ethnic cleansing that began 75 years ago with the Nakba. It has also declared its aim to intensify the repression against any form of Palestinian resistance to the occupation. The message sent is clear.

Also evident is the complicity of the French government in the situation in Palestine. But let’s not forget the increasingly important role of employers and corporations in supporting colonialism!

For example, the Carrefour Group has decided to set up in settlements in the West Bank and the French arms dealer Thalès is collaborating with the Israeli company Elbit Systems in the production of weapons of war (including drones). We should also mention the companies Veolia and Alstom which have actively participated in the development of metro lines to the settlements surrounding Jerusalem.

The French government and employers are defending their interests here by attacking social gains and there, in Palestine, by trampling on the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people against the occupation! Winning the battle for pensions is striking a major blow against this complicity!

Fighting the government and employers here also means denouncing the French government’s unconditional support for Israeli apartheid and its privileged diplomatic, political and economic relations. It also means denouncing the continuous crimes against the Palestinian people!

Solidarity is mutual aid in the common fight!
Let us develop the anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist struggle everywhere!