France is in revolt. Ever since the 24 March decision by Macron to push through hated pension reforms without a vote, people have been shutting down city centres, and occupying schools, universities, and workplaces.
Much of the news has focused on the movement in Paris. However, the rebellion isn’t only in the capital. It is happening in cities, towns and villages across the country.
The Canary spoke to Ana, an organiser from Marseille, who has been involved in the protests and demonstrations in the city. She agreed to tell us a little about what’s been happening over the last week.
Ana said that people have taken to the streets of Marseille almost every evening since Macron bypassed parliament by invoking article 49-3 of the French constitution. These nighttime protests are known as ‘manifestation sauvage’ in French, or (roughly translated) wildcat demonstrations. The city’s anarchist movement organises them.
Ana said that the police have responded to the wildcat demonstrations with tear gas and violence. For example, police mobilised with force against demonstrators on Tuesday 28 March. The cops arrested at least six people. The protests are repressed by the riot police, known as the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) and the Brigade Anti-Criminalité (BAC):
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
— Jeunesse De Marseille (@marseillelutte) March 28, 2023
Manifestation de nuit, #marseille rentre dans la lutte.
— Jeunesse De Marseille (@marseillelutte) March 23, 2023
The CRS and BAC also have a strong visible presence in the side streets, at the large pre-arranged trade union mobilisations.
On 30 March, Ana told us that a demonstration was held in Marseille, protesting against police violence. Barricades were set up on the streets.
Stopping the train lines and motorways
As in other cities in France, the rebels of Marseille have used the tactic of stopping the roads and trains in order to force Macron to back down.
The most recent big strike day was on 28 March. Trade unions organised a massive demonstration, with at least 280,000 people in Marseille participating. Members of several unions blockaded the St Charles railway station for over an hour. Prior to the blockade, the station was still operating in spite of the strike. People stopped the trains by occupying the tracks.
Ana told us that members of the Solidaries union also blocked the motorway on 28 March, and people blocked Marseille’s bus and tram depot at St Pierre too.
On 29 March, members of the CGT union used cars and trucks to bring traffic to a standstill on the roads and in motorway tunnels around Marseille.
Ana told the Canary that students have repeatedly taken action to block the entrances to their schools and universities. This happened at Lycée Saint-Charles recently, for example. She also said that students blocked the university campus at St Charles at least twice in March too. One blockade lasted 24 hours.
On 21 March, strikers occupied the oil depot at nearby Fos-Sur-Mer, building burning barricades.
Finishing what the Gilet Jaunes started
We asked Ana whether she has hope that the movement will succeed. She told us that people are becoming weary after months of intense struggle since the strikes began last year:
Support us and go ad-free
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.