Why the French are the European strike champions


Margaux Fodere
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8:13 a.m., October 19, 2022

France, champion of the strike. According to the German Hans-Bockler Foundation, there are 114 strike days per year for 1,000 employees in our country, compared to 18 in Germany and only one in Switzerland. These international comparisons should be taken with caution, since not all countries use the same methodology, but there is still a stronger strike culture in France than in our neighboring countries.

Struggle unionism with the CGT

First of all, this strike culture has its roots in French political history. Two currents of trade unionism have been opposed in France for more than a century. The reformist path, attached to social dialogue and carried by the CFDT, the majority in France. Opposite, there is the more radical way, follower of the fight, with the CGT.

In the spirit of radical trade unionism, fighting for your interests in business means going on strike, according to Malik Douaoui, a lawyer specializing in labor law at Deloitte Société d’Avocats. “The way to make your demands triumph is to impose a balance of power on employers. Moreover, in the imagination of revolutionary unionism, it’s even the general strike.”, he explains at the microphone of Europe 1.

No co-management of companies in France

Then, we have to look at the functioning of French companies. Unions very rarely govern alongside leaders, unlike our German neighbours. “As soon as the company has a certain size, we necessarily have staff representatives on the board of directors, on the supervisory board of German companies. It is the culture of compromise, we negotiate in Germany”, underlines Malik Douaoui .

Added to all this at the moment is a crisis in purchasing power, and calls for better sharing of added value, in the face of the superprofits made by certain large companies. This Tuesday, a day of interprofessional strike mobilized 107,000 demonstrators according to the Ministry of the Interior, and nearly 300,000 according to the CGT.


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