By all accounts, Le Monde (Paris) reported Tuesday evening in articles translated below, the day of national mobilization in France against the CPE (or ‘first-hire contract’) on Tues., Apr. 4, was just as much of a success as that of Mar. 28, despite the attempt Friday evening by President Jacques Chirac to defuse the crisis by announcing that the controversial measure would not be applied and that a new law would be prepared by the legislature.[1]  --  In general, the size of the demonstrations was just as large or larger than on Mar. 28, and as of early evening there were no notable incidents of the violence that has plagued earlier days of mobilization.[2] ...


Translated from Le Monde (Paris)]


Special edition

The Battle of the CPE

With AFP and Reuters

Le Monde (Paris)
April 4, 2006 -- 20:11 UT,1-0@2-734511,36-758099@51-725561,0.html

[PHOTO CAPTION: Between 21,000 and 50,000 demonstrators marched against the CPE in Rennes, Tues., Apr. 4.]

The anti-CPE mobilization was just as strong, Tues., Apr. 4, on the fifth day of national mobilization against the first-hire contract (‘contrat première embauche’). There were large numbers of demonstrators throughout France, reaching figures similar to those of Mar. 28.

The police figures -- 1,028,000 demonstrators, 84,000 of them in Paris -- like those of the unions -- 3,100,000 demonstrators, 700,000 of them in Paris -- testify to a turnout Tuesday that was similar to that of Mar. 28, a day qualified as “historic” by the unions.

The theoretical suspension of the CPE by President Jacques Chirac and the promise of seeing the two most disputed points revised (the trial period and the lack of cause for dismissal) were not enough to calm those opposing the CPE, who have been mobilized for more than two months.

Now charged with the matter alongside his counterpart in the Senate, the UMP group president at the Assemblée nationale, Bernard Accoyer, on Tuesday invited the social partners to come to meet him as early as tomorrow in a framework of separate meetings. This, “without prejudging the content of the bill” that that the UMP députés are asked to produce, and which will be discussed at the beginning of May. In addition to himself, the boss of the UMP députés said, there would be in attendance the president of the UMP group in the Senate, Josselin de Johan, ministers Jean-Louis Borloo (social cohesion) and Gérard Larcher (employment), as well as the reporters of the text in the two chambers, Député Laurent Hénart and Senator Alain Gournac.

The principal union leaders have accepted, warning that they expected “to again demand the withdrawal of the CPE,” ruling out “negotiating improvements,” in Bernard Thibault’s terems. The CGT’s general secretary said Tuesday that the unions now had “more aces in (their) sleeve.” For its part, the Socialist Party (PS), which is demanding the “abrogation” of the CPE, indicated that it would meet beginning Wednesday with the union organizations, which have asked to meet with “all parties, in order to send a message.” The PS is expected to present a bill for the abrogation of the CPE and the CNE, which will be discussed on May 16 in the Assemblée nationale.


Almost everywhere in France, marches equalled or surpassed those of Mar. 28: between 35,000 and 250,000 in Marseilles, between 52,000 and 100,000 in Nantes, between 45,000 and 120,000 in Bordeaux, and between 15,000 and 45,000 in Lyons. “It’s easy to see that the government and the politicians are in the process of giving up, we need to go all the way,” said François Chérèque (CFDT), who called the day “successful.”

On the other hand, the strikes were observed less, particularly in the public sector. In national education, the minister figured the proportion of strikers as between 16.14% adn 28.42%, 10 points less than on Mar. 28. At the SNCF [railways], the proportion of strikers was 18.3%, compared to 27.7% on Mar. 28, according to management. Urban transport was not much disturbed in Paris and the 32 cities affected (compared to 76 on the 28th).

“The movement will not end with this day,” said M. Thibault, warning that “tomorrow [Wednesday], we’ll call for the movement to be continued with new forms of action, so as to take into account school vacations.” For his part, saying that “the month of May is too far off,” M. Mailly (FO) said that what was needed was “a quick response, otherwise this is what’s called playiing for time, or betting on things getting worse.”



Special edition

The Battle of the CPE

With AFP and Reuters

Le Monde (Paris)
April 4, 2006 -- 19:48 UT,1-0@2-734511,36-758099@51-725561,0.html

[PHOTO CAPTION: Between 21,000 and 50,000 demonstrators marched against the CPE in Rennes, Tues., Apr. 4.]

[PHOTO CAPTION: “More than three million” people particpated in demonstrations against the CPE throughout France, or more than on Mar. 28, according to a partial count by the CGT made shortly before 5:00 p.m.]

Another demonstration of strength of the anti-CPE movement in the street. As the Paris march left the place de la République, the regional marches were notable for a high turnout, sometimes larger than at the Mar. 28 demonstrations.

At 5:00 p.m., the CGT announced “more than three million” people throughout France, or more than Mar. 28, noting that this was an incomplete count. “The turnout is at least equal to that of Mar. 28, often larger, and overall will exceed 3 million, we’re going to be around 3.1 million demonstrators,” added a union official.

The ministry of the interior noted a turnout that was slightly less than last week’s throughout the nation: 1,028,000 people, according to a definitive count.

The leading edge of the anti-CPE march in Paris arrived at the place d’Italie at 4:30 p.m., the end of the demonstration, without any notable incidents, while the tail end of the march had yet to leave the place de la République. The demonstration gathered some 700,000 people, according to an estimate from union organizations, or the same figure as the last day of mobilization, Mar. 28. The ministry of the interior counted 84,000 people in the streets of Paris, fewer than last Tuesday (92,000 people).

Thus more than 250,000 people demonstrated in Marseille, according to organizers, a mobilization equivalent to that of Mar. 28. The prefecture reported 35,000 demonstrators (28,000 last week). In Nantes, between 52,000 demonstrators according to police and 75,000 according to the unions, demonstrated peaceably in the morning. These figures are also higher than at the Mar. 28 demonstration, where there were 42,000 according to police and 70,000 according to unions, which was already a 20-year record. In all, the demonstrations brought out more than 100,000 people, including many young people, in the Loire-Atlantique department, according to the unions.

Bordeaux also saw one of the city’s largest demonstrations: 115,000 according to organizers, and 45,000 according to police. In Lyons, under a hot spring sun, the march was as big as last week’s, with 15,000 people according to police and 45,000 according to the unions. In Toulouse, the march brought out between 35,000 and 90,000.

In Grenoble, demonstrations in the sunshine brought out between 28,000 people, according to police, and 60,000, according to the unions, which makes this the second largest demonstration organized in that city in the past thirty years. Only the anti-Le Pen demonstration on the occasion of the second round of the 2002 presidential election, with 57,000 demonstrators, was as large.

In many cities, demonstrations went way over 10,000 people. This was the case in Rouen, Caen, Nice, and Rheims. In the latter city, a union official from UNSA said it was something “never before seen.”


For Bernard Thibault, the CGT’s general secretary, the street mobilization against the CPE is “very similar to that of Mar. 28.” He said that the movement wasn’t “over with this day.” “There is a base for the movement and today can deal a fatal blow to the CPE. At the level of strikes, there’s a bit less in the public sector, but more strikes were voted in the private sector,” he added, at the beginning of the Paris demonstration. François Chérèque (CFDT), for his part, spoke of a mobilization “from 5 to 10% larger” than that of Mar. 28.

If the mobilization seems larger, the number of strikers is down, particularly in public tranportation. At the SNCF, where the management reported a rate of strikers of 18.3% compared to 27.7% on Mar. 28, train traffic -- 72% of TGVs, 45% of Corails, and 51% of Transiliens -- was mostly what was expected. Disturbances were not very noticeable in urban transportation in Paris in the 32 cities affected (as compared to 76 on the 28th).

In addition to civil service, many sectors were affected: telecommunications, the media (some dailies were missing from kiosks; France-Inter was particularly affected), banks, energy, stores, metallurgy, etc. At the post office, strikers were counted at 8.4%, compared to 14,7% on Mar. 28. In national education, the SNES is reporting 42% of strikers on average in secondary schools, or one “note” down from Mar. 28, according to the union. For its part, the ministry figures the proportion of strikers at between 16.14% and 28.42%, or some 10 points less than on Mar. 28. Some 10.2% of EDF employees were also on strike at mid-day Tuesday, compared to 12% at mid-day Mar. 28.

Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
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