At the weekend, I attended the 43rd congress of the Mouvement de Jeunes Communistes de France.
I made a brief speech with some greetings to the opening of the congress.
The president of WFDY Aritz Rodríguez was there.
The MJCF arranged a tour of Montmartre with the ‘Friends of the Paris Commune’. I was very excited for another chance to visit Espace Niemeyer, there was an art exhibition in the entrance and it was quite crowded.
We met some figures from the French Communist Party and the CGT.
Here’s the open lounge/social space, with a fancy coffee machine.
I appreciated the coffee because I was not very awake at that point. 😪
Without going into the congress business, it was a fun weekend; long dinners, plenty of wine, lots of political discussion, and spontaneous outbursts of French socialist songs. I didn’t get much sleep and made the most of it.
I discovered a new song, les gosses de Bagnolet.
The boys of Bagnolet
are all in good health
since the town hall
has been set in order.
The workers representatives
did well to appreciate
what the children missed
in order to be happy.
Some fresh air, some merriment
everything to eat
and an ocean to swim in.
And so it’s thanks to the communists
if the children are so happy.
One comrade explained the background of the song - in 1932 the communist municipality of Bagnolet began sending local children to a holiday camp by the seaside, part of a modernising push for leisure, sport, and hygiene. The demand for holiday time was taken up later by the Popular Front government, which introduced the legal right to two weeks paid holiday in 1936.
Last Thursday I went to a demonstration called by the CGT at Bastille.
The protest was accompanied by strikes and demos around the country. Here’s a trade unionist from the southern banlieue of Chevilly-Larue.
I got talking with this guy before he pulled out a flare and started waving it around.
The day of mobilisation was in demand of higher salaries. There are sparks of a similar movement in Britain broadly manifesting unrest over the cost of living crisis. Chronic low wages represent a problem which naturally lends itself to coordinated action from unions.
Here’s one of the speeches from the platform.
Unfortunately I had to leave before the march to Bercy properly got going. The news afterwards reported some clashes with police, although that’s probably to be expected for protests in Paris.