General strike in France

first_imgFrench President Emmanuel Macron’s government bet that the unions would grow tired, their members pinched by their loss of pay, and that public support would dwindle as travel to and from work became onerous, as their electricity flickered. But the government lost. Marseilles, France In response to massive protests Jan. 9 the French government offered a major concession. But the struggle continues, as does public support for the workers.Workers at France’s Central Bank have decided that starting Jan. 13, they’ll stop supplying ATMs with money. At least one of France’s eight refineries has stopped producing fuel. General assemblies of workers at the other eight refineries are considering keeping their products from being distributed.Many political analysts in France say that government intransigence over pension reform has led “reformist” unions like the CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Labor) and Unsa (National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions) — which had collaborated with Macron — to withhold support from Macron’s government.  Militant unions like those in the CGT (General Confederation of Labor) and FO (Workers’ Force) have become more confrontational.According to the CGT website, workers demonstrated in 216 cities and towns throughout France on Jan. 9, drawing nearly 1.7 million people to march in the streets. They protested the government’s plan to modify France’s retirement system.  The existing system has given France’s retired population the lowest poverty rate of European retirees.The turnout on Jan. 9 was larger than that on Dec. 5 when the protests started. According to an official report published Jan. 6, the public strike fund for the CGT has received the equivalent of $2.2 million in contributions from 29,214 people all over France.  Other unions have also set up similar funds for online donations and local unions have passed the bucket at demonstrations and marches and on the street.French unions typically don’t have strike funds, but rely on public donations to sustain long strikes.Gov’t withdraws threatAfter the huge Jan. 9 demonstrations, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that he was withdrawing plans to increase the retirement age to 64 in the bill he will present to parliament this spring.  This concession removes an obstacle to support from the reformist unions — a red line they were not willing to cross.Prime Minister Philippe has already made similar concessions to the police, dancers at the Paris Opera, nurses, airline flight attendants and pilots.  Spokespeople for the CFDT and Unsa, welcoming his concession, remarked that it was clearly jerry-rigged and said other issues must still be negotiated.The CGT and FO made clear that they are not interested in negotiating terms of a bill that they want withdrawn.  The current system certainly could be improved, with more attention given to the needs of women and low-wage workers, but the government proposal leads nowhere. Much of the financial pressure on the retirement system could be resolved by putting the wealth tax back into effect.Class solidarity is behind the strong public support of the unions’ determination to defend France’s current retirement system, which consists of 42 distinct plans  reflecting the needs of workers in each plan. An interview with a commuter on the government-owned television chain France 2 illustrated this solidarity.This commuter, a woman in her thirties, was spending 90 minutes longer to reach her job and 60 minutes longer getting home.  Her trip home was in a car jam-packed, like “sardines” — the camera showed the sweat on passengers’ faces. She arrived at her station, dark because striking electricity workers had shut off the power.  But as she waited for her bus ride home, she told France 2 she still supported the unions because they were fighting for everyone.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Indian Ink, Starring Rosemary Harris & Romola Garai, Opens Off-Broadway

first_imgThe off-Broadway premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink officially opens at the Laura Pels Theatre on September 30. The Roundabout production stars Tony and Emmy winner Rosemary Harris and U.K. stage and screen favorite Romola Garai. Indian Ink, directed by Carey Perloff, will play a limited engagement through November 30. View Comments In addition to Harris and Garai, the cast features Firdous Bamji, Bill Buell, Nick Choksi, Neal Huff, Caroline Lagerfelt, Omar Maskati, Tim McGeever, Brenda Meaney, Philip Mills, Ajay Naidu, Bhavesh Patel, Lee Aaron Rosen and Rajeev Varma. Related Showscenter_img Set on two different continents and in two different eras, Indian Ink follows free-spirited English poet Flora Crewe on her travels through India in the 1930s, where her intricate relationship with an Indian artist unfurls against the backdrop of a country seeking its independence. Fifty years later, in 1980s England, her younger sister Eleanor tries to preserve the legacy of Flora’s controversial career. Indian Ink Show Closed This production ended its run on Nov. 30, 2014last_img read more

Michael Cerveris Will Move Into Fun Home on Broadway

first_imgBroadway.com has confirmed that Michael Cerveris, who starred in the 2013 off-Broadway hit Fun Home, will move with the property to the Great White Way. The Tony winner will play Bruce Bechdel in Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s new musical. As previously announced, the Pulitzer finalist will begin previews on April 4, 2015 at Circle in the Square Theater. Directed by Sam Gold, opening night is set for April 22. Further casting will be announced later. The off-Broadway company also included Judy Kuhn as Helen, Griffin Birney as John Bechdel, Roberta Colindrez as Joan, Noah Hinsdale as Christian Bechdel, Sydney Lucas as Small Alison, Beth Malone as Alison, Joel Perez as Roy and Emily Skeggs as Medium Alison. Related Shows Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, Fun Home charts a girl’s quest to come to terms with her father’s unexpected death. As she moves between past and present, Alison dives into the story of her volatile, brilliant father and relives her unique childhood at her family’s funeral home. View Commentscenter_img Fun Home Cerveris took home a Tony Award in 2004 for his performance as John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. He was also nominated for his 1993 Broadway debut in Tommy, Sweeney Todd, Lovemusik and his most recent stint on the Great White Way: Evita. His additional stage credits include Titanic, Cymbeline, Hedda Gabler and In the Next Room. On screen, he has appeared in The Good Wife, Fringe and The Mexican. Show Closed This production ended its run on Sept. 10, 2016last_img read more