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Clandestine immigrant workers : new wave of protest

Translated Wednesday 28 May 2008, by Edward Lamb

According to the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) trade union, 321 clandestine immigrant workers have been on strike in 23 different locations in and around Paris since Tuesday morning, along with the association Droits Devant ! (militant Civil Rights group), of this second protest movement in the Ile-de-France region. They also demonstrated on Cannes’ oceanfront Croisette in the very midst of the Film Festival.
"This second offensive is a serious warning addressed to the government — to say that there is no question of accepting the way things are going, the results being too slow in coming and the methods disappointing", declared Raymond Chauveau, of the CGT union section in l’Essonne.

He pointed out that not one single application has been filed in the local administration concerning the new strikers. A thousand regularisation files have already been sent to the five administrative divisions which constitute the Ile-de-France region, in relation to a first protest movement which started in the region on April 15th, at the initiative of the CGT and Droits Devants ! militants. A total of "some 600 to 700" clandestine immigrant workers are currently on strike throughout the region.

"It’s going too slowly, local administration are fumbling around, although they told us they had been given instructions" complained the CGT’s federal secretary, Francine Blanche, who contested the figures given Friday by the Immigration Ministry, claiming 132 regularizations effectuated or pending.

Only 70 approved for immigration

According to the CGT, "not even 70 actual approvals", certified by the delivery of temporary permits, a prerequisite for obtaining French residency cards, have been provided. Certain prefectures de départment deliver temporary authorisations, which extend the right to stay, but do not authorize legal French residency.

The same observation was made by Claude Amara, spokesman for Droits Devant !, who considers that this second wave of strikes is the response to be given to a government which "has not kept its promises" to approve the residency applications of several hundred undocumented immigrant workers.

The CGT announced that they had been received by the Immigration Ministry Monday evening, in order to define the exact list of the documents required by the administration to apply for residency.

Restaurants in the neighbourhood of the Champs-Elysées, such as the Bistro Romain, the Paris Golf Country Club in Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine) and the "Market" restaurant, not far from the palais de l’Elysée, were particularly targeted by this second offensive, which was to be pursued throughout the day.

In Cannes, Seine-Saint-Denis and the Val-de-Marne

The clandestine alien workers "crashed the party" at Cannes’ International Film Festival. A procession of some one hundred illegal immigrants took place on Tuesday afternoon, at Cannes, to demand authorisations for all of the illegal immigrants without whom luxury hotels and restaurants could not operate.

In the Val-de-Marne, a judge in Créteil ordered the eviction of about twenty illegal immigrants, former employees of the grocery market "Paris Store", in Choisy-le-Roi, and from another store Metal Couleur. Encouraged by the CGT, they have been laying siege there since April 21st. On the other hand, in Seine-Saint-Denis, at the Casa-Nova store, in Pavillons-sous-Bois, employees have recently obtained a written promise from their manager allowing the establishment of work contracts, giving the right, for seven of them, to authorized residency.

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