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French Public Sector Employees Protest Cuts In State Spending

Above photo: CGT strike on March 19. CGT.

On top of the cuts already made in the 2024 budget, the French government also decreed a USD 10.85 billion cut in state spending for 2024.

Public sector employees in France led massive protests on Tuesday March 19, demanding an increase in wages to compensate for cuts in their real wages indexed with the inflation. They also participated in a general strike on Tuesday called for by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), Solidaires, Force Ouvrière (FO), the CFE-CGC, the Autonomous Federation, the SNES-FSU and the UNSA. Major rallies were held in Paris, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, and Toulouse.

The trade unions denounced French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire’s February 22 decree, stipulating a reduction of €10 billion (USD 10.85 billion) in state spending for 2024, on top of €16 billion (USD 17. 38 billion) in cuts already made in the 2024 budget.

Emmanuel Macron-led French government has enacted harsh austerity measures in the country since his rise to power, making massive cuts in social spending, and reforming pension schemes in the country, which have courted widespread protests. To mend the fiscal deficit and budgetary holes as directed by the European Union (EU), the government made cuts worth billions in public spending including social welfare and real wages. Public sector hospitals and schools have been reeling under decades-long divestment and cuts. The COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing cost of living crisis marked by high inflation in France and across Europe have also put the French working class in distress.

In response to the new cuts pushed by the finance minister, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) has stated that “rather than reducing the massive and unconditional public aid paid to private companies, rather than taxing the richest, the government continues to make households, employees, pensioners, young people, and the unemployed pay.”

The CGT has warned that the new cuts will impact ecology, labor, education and research, public housing, international aid, and other crucial areas of social spending.

“Finally, it should be noted that this package of austerity measures is being implemented by decree, thus once again circumventing the democratic control of Parliament,” added the CGT.

On March 19, Paul Vannier MP, from La France Insoumise (LFI), told the media “For the past 15 years, the purchasing power of civil servants has been steadily decreasing! This year again, revaluations remain below inflation. There is an impoverishment of those who keep our daily public services alive, close to home. There is, basically, a dimension of general interest in today’s strike.”

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