(GPA) Massive strikes have taken place this week throughout France and South America– which the mainstream media has failed to thoroughly acknowledge. Here’s a quick recap of this week’s expansive strikes and labor protests.
Strikes and protests in Colombia entered their 3rd day today. 300,000 teachers have joined the agricultural workers today to protest the austerity of the Juan Manuel Santos government and privatization of the telecommunications company. Through the national strike, called “Agrarian, Ethnic, Rural and Popular Minga,” citizens are also seeking health care, education, a seat at the bargaining table for peace talks, and an economic development plan that serves Colombia’s indigenous population. Protesters are blocking roads; police plan to remove the barricades. 74 citizens have been injured thus far. 1 has died.
Both Chilean workers and students have been striking in the hopes of labor reforms. Protesters are seeking fairer working conditions, an end to anti-union laws, the right to collective bargaining and an end to far-right labor laws that echo the Pinochet-era. Despite government and employer opposition to labor reform, Chilean workers and students have become increasingly vigilant demanding real change. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s efforts have fallen short of what she had promised.
Argentina’s energy unions plan to strike across the country against a recent increase in gas prices imposed by right-wing president Mauricio Macri. Which has resulted in over 154,000 workers losing their jobs while the cost of living has skyrocketed. The strike is expected to include nearly 2,000 workers which will essentially shut down nationwide gas service.
France has seen perhaps some of the most expansive strikes this week including gas, nuclear power, energy, air transport and rail workers. All protesting watered-down labor reform laws which would put more power in the hands of companies. Workers at all 8 of France’s oil refineries participated in the strike eventually spreading to service workers at 3,000 petrol stations. Over 100 flights across Europe were canceled today as 4 out of the 5 air traffic control unions are participating in the strikes. About 60% of high speed rails have shut down in support of the strike. Protesters say the new labor laws make employees more dispensable which would make hiring and firing workers easier for companies. The strikes are expected to be indefinite and are supported by 46% of the French people according to a poll in the Journal du Dimanche Sunday.
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