May 1, Labour Day, is supposed to celebrate the solidarity of the workers. But, in France at least, that unity has rarely been seen in the traditional demonstrations. Today however, France’s eight main unions will march together, protesting against President Sarkozy’s social policies and his handling of the world financial crisis.
“This is the first time that we will be demonstrating together, to show the powers that be, especially the bosses, that the unions are indeed united,” said Albert Moulet of the CFE-CGC union. It is the first time that the eight groups have urged their members to march together, with opinion polls showing the public has had enough of inter-union bickering. “Anger is growing, frankly, and I think we will see that this May Day,” said Eric Gueret of the CFDT union. The unions’ new-found unity may not hold. Radicals want a 24-hour strike in both the public and private sectors but moderates are not convinced. They also abhore the recent so-called “boss-nappings” and acts of violence against companies suffering lay-offs or closures.