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The Great Majority of the French Understand Worker Anger

Translated Wednesday 12 August 2009, by Alison Billington and reviewed by Henry Crapo

An opinion poll by the French Market Research Institute for ‘Humanité’ reveals that 62% understand illegal confinement of employers  [1] and 50% the threats to destroy work sites.

Are we headed towards accepting radical actions against a factory closure or a redundancy plan as everyday facts? The French Market Research Institute’s survey for ‘Humanité’ [2] reveals that 44% of workers agree with the idea of illegally confining employers (4% condemn it) which constitutes an increase of 4% in comparison with a survey by the same institute conducted in April 2009 for Paris Match’. And 52% understand this, but in spite of understanding, do not approve. “This leaves you thinking that this type of action is not going to come to a halt, since the main protagonists remain very determined” reckons Jerôme Fouquet, deputy director of the Opinions Department of the French Market Research Institute.

The percentage of workers falls to 30% on the issue of judging the paid workers threats to blow up their enterprise (compared to 16%). It nevertheless remains that it is in a certain professional category that radical action in disagreements finds most sympathy. Doubtless, the workers are ‘that main victims of redundancies and site closures in the industrial sector’ as Jerôme Fouquet explains.

But whatever the professional milieu, the sex, age or territory, ‘the majority understand the confinement of employers, even if the level of approval of public opinion is a little lower than last April’, notes the French Market Research Institute Director. Among those interviewed, confinement is more acceptable than threats of destroying enterprises, even if one or two say they understand actions which can be violent and 16% approve of them.

Is this a sign of despair when faced with a never-ending crisis? According to Jerôme Fouquet ‘it’s notably more the expression of malaise, anger and exasperation when faced with the large salary differences between paid workers, share-holders and high status managers,’. Among the known causes of intensification of initiatives is firstly the feeling of injustice in the differences in incomes and also stock exchange redundancies.

The influence of the extreme Left in this type of action is upheld by only 11% of the interviewees, deciding with those who insist over the media that militants in the ‘Workers’ Struggle political party [3] and in the New Anticapitalist party [4] stir up tougher action. This argument from ‘the hand of the Leftists’ had been introduced into the agenda. Now, the interviewees condemn tough actions - the majority think of them in this way. Among these are mainly UMP [5]
sympathisers. According to Jerôme Fouquet ‘feelings run so high among the paid victims of redundancies and those of enterprise closures that they land an attentive ear to radial speeches in politics. It isn’t the Workers Struggle or the new Anticapitalist party which breathes over the embers to make conflicts erupt.

[1The French market research Institute sample of 1,005 people is representative of the French population aged 18 and over in the survey undertaken on 27-29th July 2009.

[2It is typical of the French to illegally lock up their employer in time of dispute, in place of say, strike action, or during strike action.

[3Workers’ Struggle or ‘Lutte Ouvrière’ is the French Trotskyist political party. Wikipedia.

[4The New Anticapitalist Party or Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA and intended to ‘unify the fractured movements of the Left’. A Leftist party. Wikipedia.

[5UMP = Union pour un mouvement populaire, a centre-right French pplitical party to which Nicolas Sarkozy belongs. Wikipedia.

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