Belabored Podcast #191: A Mass Strike Against Macron, with Colin Kinniburgh

Belabored Podcast #191: A Mass Strike Against Macron, with Colin Kinniburgh

Workers across France have been on strike over pension reforms for six weeks. Dissent editor at large Colin Kinniburgh joins us from Paris.

Protestors march through the streets of Paris chanting against President Macron, December 17, 2019 (Kiran Ridley/Getty Images)

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Workers across France have been on strike over pension reforms for six weeks now—what began with railway workers spread throughout the public sector and has given us dramatic photos of striking ballerinas and massive marches across Paris, but also extends into the energy sector and even to Amazon warehouses. This week saw the first big march since the holidays, as negotiations pick back up, and we talk with Dissent‘s own Colin Kinniburgh, now living in France as a freelance reporter who’s been covering the strike. He explains what President Macron wants to do with the French pension system, why protesters are occupying BlackRock offices, what this has to do with the gilets jaunes, and much more. 

We also look in on a new effort to organize video games workers, the union-busting of Honduran fruit workers with Gabriela Rosazza of International Labor Rights Forum, the effects of California’s AB5 gig worker law on freelancers with Tia Koonse of UCLA Labor Center, and the closure of auto plants on opioid-related deaths. For Argh, we consider whether work is driving us to therapy (and whether therapy will solve our workplace problems) and the problems with treating sex workers as victims in need of intervention. 

This week’s show was supported by our monthly sustaining members. If you think our work is worth supporting, please consider becoming a member today. If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at


Auto plant closures may lead to more opioid overdose deaths, Penn study finds (WHYY)

Freelancers fear California’s new gig worker law will wipe them out (LA Times)

Major union launches campaign to organize video game and tech workers (LA Times)

Fyffes’ Women’s Day Announcement Attempts to Distract Consumers and Investors from Union-Busting on its Farms (ILRF)


Colin Kinniburgh

Colin Kinniburgh: Climate Politics after the Yellow Vests (Dissent)

Colin Kinniburgh: Don’t Mess With French Pensions (The Nation)

France’s Pension Battle Heats Up (The Nation)

French women may be the biggest losers under Macron’s pension reform plan (France 24)

Why France’s ‘unsustainable’ pension system may well be sustainable (France 24)

Crowdfunding and solidarity: How French rail workers sustain a record-long strike (France 24)

Argh, I wish I’d Written That: 

Sarah: Josh Gabert-Doyon, Why Work Is Driving More of Us to Therapy (VICE Canada)

Michelle: Melissa Gira Grant, Human Trafficking Courts Are Not a Criminal Justice ‘Innovation’ (The New Republic)

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