PARIS (1-May-05) - On this Sunday, 1 May, the weather is very co-operative. It is only half-sunny but
the temperature is supposed to be 28 degrees and this is what it felt like. On the Métro ride to the CGT's parade launch at
the Place de la République it didn't seem as if many working folks were aiming for it.
Paris today there are four parades. The fascists are always in the streets in the morning on Mayday, but they keep to the
Rue de Rivoli and go along to dishonor Jeanne d'Arc's statue before holding their usual harangue at the Opéra.
The CFTC held their parade in the morning too, starting at Montparnasse, and I think the FO had their
parade in the morning, starting at République. The CFDT chose to wait until 17:00 before setting out from Place Blanche with
République as their destination. Therefore it was easily possible to take part in multiple parades, for the extra energetic.
Very shortly after launch time at 14:30 the biggest parade was slowly winding down the Boulevard
Voltaire. Leading it were a group protesting against the 116th day of captivity in Iraq for Libération journalist Florence
Aubenas and her driver, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi. [The web site for Liberation journalist held hostage in Iraq]
For those captivity...
The point was followed by the CGT's leaders, including the union's national secretary, Bernard Thibault,
plus a representative from Germany's DGB, and other notables, with the usual union gorillas to clear the way.
From my spot on the pavement between Oberkampf and Boulets it was impossible to tell how many were
taking part in the parade. The police presence was slight and no RATP agents were in sight.
of the posters stuck up, illegally, along the route urged a 'non' vote for the European Constitution, although I believe all
of the major unions are officially for a 'yes' vote. The leftist CGT union is not on the same wavelength as France's Communist
Party, which is against adoption the new Constitution.
common there were many working people taking part in the parade, often with signs identifying their employers. Other signs
denounced the attacks on the 35-hour workweek, the situation in the Middle East, and various other ongoing conflicts. There
is a group on an advanced hunger strike, demanding residence papers. These were mentioned on the radio news this morning.
As for the day's numbers, these will be announced on tonight's national TV-news, perhaps
with the estimates by the police that are always a third of what the unions will claim. Pamphlets I picked up called for street
demonstrations on 4. May and again on 14. May.
The Monday national holiday of Pentecôte on 16 May has been abolished
by the Prime Minister. This is supposed to be for solidarity with old folks, but many here think it is a government-inspired
rip-off, costing everybody a free day. Many intend to avoid work or strike on this day. Others intend to go to the long-scheduled
bullfights in Nimes which always has its Feria on this long weekend.
polling goes on feverishly in an attempt to decipher the mood of the country about the vote for or against the adoption of
the European Constitution. The latest polls have hinted that the intention to vote 'non' is losing ground and the 'yes' vote
is progressing. Both are hovering around 50 percent, with 'non' still having a slight edge. This vote will take place on Sunday,