The northern French city of Calais, formerly a hub for textiles like lace, has been decimated by globalisation. Now, many voters are turning to anti-mass migration French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to restore jobs to the city.
Once there were hundreds of textile factories pumping out vast quantities of lace in the northern French city of Calais but globalisation has put many out of work. Out of the hundreds of formerly active factories employing 30,000 people, only three remain in the city employing less than 300.
Marine Le Pen has promised to restore jobs to the beleaguered city through what she calls “intelligent” protectionism and her message has attracted vast support from residents, The New York Times reports.
Globalisation, along with byzantine French labour laws, has gutted the traditional working class in France and many see only Le Pen as the political providing solutions. In the French “rust belt”, struggling steel workers have put their weight behind the Front National candidate after becoming disillusioned with the Socialists under President François Hollande, once considered the party of the workers.
In Calais, the attitude is similar as the unemployment rate has hit over 20 per cent as many factories have been forced to either relocate or automate the workforce due to the pressures of globalisation.
French laws have also made the cost of labour enormous compared to places like China. According to Michel Machart, the head of MM Textile: “A French person working 35 hours a week cost the same as 15 Chinese.”
Ms. Le Pen has blamed globalisation for the trend of unemployment in working class areas and has vowed to stop the drain of jobs. In her victory speech, she framed the fight between her and her pro-globalism rival Emmanuel Macron as a battle between globalism and patriotism, saying the survival of France was at stake.
Last week, the difference between the two candidates was stark when both visited a Whirlpool factory in Macron’s hometown of Amiens scheduled to be outsourced to Poland. Whilst Macron was talking behind closed doors with labour leaders, Le Pen visited the workers unannounced and promised to save their jobs.
Hours later when Macron arrived at the factory, he was met with boos and chants of “Marine President!” from a hostile crowd. Macron attempted to explain how globalisation was good for the workers and that it provided new opportunities, but the appeals fell on deaf ears.
Many in Calais are resigned to the idea that the lace factories will never return to the city as the twin forces of globalisation and French labour laws continue to destroy the French manufacturing sector.
Calais has also been the home of the notorious “Jungle” migrant camp which was cleared late last year. Many of the migrants forced out fled to Paris where they live across from the Porte de La Chapelle metro station. Breitbart London interviewed several of the migrants who blamed Europeans for “ruining” their countries and not giving them documentation and welfare.
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