Return the Favor


Protestors always had to be creative regarding their equipment. How do you best protect against pepper spray, rubber bullets or tear gas canisters shot by the police? This protester in the 2016 demonstrations in France certainly knew how to equip him or herself and look cool by doing so. Not only that, but the equipment also came in handy when tear-gas canisters were shot at the protestors. Thereby, the protestor was able to give the police a taste of their own medicine. Roger Federer couldn’t have done it better. The photo was taken by Jean-Sebastien Evrard on June 2, 2016.

 

Courtesy to Jean-Sebastien Evrard (June 2, 2016).

What Happened?

In 2016, the French government of President Hollande passed a new labor reform (without a vote of course). This reform made it far easier for employers to lay off workers as well as to increase the work hours (1). Further, firms had greater freedom in negotiating holidays, maternity leaves, and such like as well as to reduce the payments of their workers. Most of these aspects were strictly regulated before, but after the new labor reform workers were subjected even more to the despotism of their employers than before. Organized by the trade unions and leftist groups, the demonstrations erupted and grew immensely. On March 31, nearly 400.000 people protested across France. Because of strikes, only about half of the trains and only 3 out of 19 nuclear power plants were able to function normally (2). Even the staff of the Eiffel tower took part in the protest, wherefore the famous attraction had to be closed (3). Several protestors were injured and taken into custody. The protests coincided with the 2016 football championship and the government struggled to keep the peace.

At the time, the rate of unemployment was around 10%, which is extremely high (3). Especially, young people were (and still are) affected, with every fourth young French citizen having no job.

According to opinion polls, 80% of the French population were against the new labor reforms (3). One would assume that in a real democracy, this would be more than enough the stop them. However, this was sadly not the case.

Since then, France has seen plenty of protests. Therefore, we created this shirt in solidarity and honor of the French people who are taking the street day by day to fight for their rights.

Solidarité pour toujours!

Want to know how to best equip for a protest? Read the article by Katherine Hamilton (click here). If you have any further useful ideas, let us know in the comments and we will include them here.

Part of the money made with this design will be donated to SOS Racisme. They are a French-based NGO that fights against racism. Click here to check out their website (it is in French though, click here for the English Wikipedia article). Big thanks to Comrade H. for the suggestion!

 


Sources:

  1. n.d. (2016, June 14). France Labour Dispute: Paris protests descend into violence. BBC News. Retrieved on June 5, 2020 from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36531345
  2. n.d. (2016, June 2). Streiks auch zur EM? Tagesschau. Retrived on June 5, 2020 from: https://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/streiks-frankreich-103.html
  3. n.d. (2016, June 14). Randale, Verletzte, Festnahmen. Zeit Online. Retireved on June 5, 2020 from: https://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2016-06/proteste-frankreich-arbeitsmarktreform-paris

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