FRANCE: Lecturers vote to continue strike

Despite negotiations last week between lecturers' unions and the Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse, the universities' national strike committee voted on Friday to continue industrial action against government reforms. The decision came after a week of renewed protests, including nationwide demonstrations on Thursday in which tens of thousands took to the streets.

University lecturers and researchers called their "total and unlimited strike" on 22 January against government proposals to amend a law governing their employment status, reform teacher training, cut posts and change the role of research organisations.

Pécresse last week met unions, including representatives from the biggest union SNESUP which had boycotted previous meetings with her. The contentious amendment to the employment law is currently being rewritten, and some axed posts have been restored; but for now opposition to the teacher training reforms appears to be taking precedence. The national committee called a mass meeting to debate the issue on Saturday 7 March at the Sorbonne in Paris.

In a statement following its vote on Friday the strike committee, composed of a dozen unions and associations representing lecturers, researchers and students, denounced the "delaying manoeuvres of the government and its divisive strategies which consist of negotiating selectively, and ignoring the main actors and the principal reasons for the current mobilisation".

It said the government's responses were "scandalously insufficient", called "more than ever for the repeal" of government reforms and announced further protests for the coming week.

On Thursday numbers demonstrating throughout the country were estimated at between 24,000 and 50,000.


Thanks to Jane Marshall and Alan Osborne for excellent reporting on the crisis in French universities. You're about the only regular source on this in English, and students have complained they're not even getting proper coverage in France.

This is such a big story, I've recapped it in English using French sources as well as your work. See "Sarkozy's French University Reforms Crash And Burn" on NewsHammer, and soon to be published on NewsHammerOnCampus, an online newsmagazine that covers the university scene through student journalism.

Alan Gillis