In 2014, French livestock farmers experienced a six to eight percent decrease in prices of their goods due to falling prices worldwide, a Russian embargo on European Union goods, as well as competition between supermarkets, while distribution companies’ earnings remained the same. On 17 June 2015, members of the French food industry agreed to a hike in the price of meat and dairy in order to increase the amount of money going to the farmers. The agreement stipulated a five-cent price increase per kilogram of beef per week.
The French General Strikes in 2009 came during the first quarter of the country’s recession and was the first general strike in an industrialized nation since the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008. Economic forecasts predicted that the economy would contract by 2 percent in 2009 and that unemployment would reach 10 percent by 2010. In response to these poor economic predictions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a $34 billion stimulus plan in December, which included capital infusions to banks of more than $11 billion.
Guadeloupe is generally a tourist-friendly French Caribbean island (a department of the French state, whose residents are citizens of the EU). The island's inhabitants rely mostly on imported goods sold in French-owned supermarkets at a significantly higher price than on the mainland, despite having a 23 percent rate of unemployment, more than twice that of France's.
In the French Island of La Réunion located in the Indian Ocean, 52% of the inhabitants lived under the poverty line, 50% of the youth were underemployed and there was a 25% unemployment rate at the time of this campaign. This had been the situation for decades, but the recent increase in unemployment and inflation (which affected La Reunion in a greater way than it affected France) made life increasingly expensive in La Réunion.
In Martinique, a small Caribbean island and overseas department of France, 70,000 people live below the poverty line. Before this campaign, the people of Martinique had been experiencing a continuing increase in layoffs and precariousness in work while the purchasing power continued to decrease. Unemployment was at 23 percent, while most of the basic food items shipped in from France remained very expensive.
The May revolt started as a student protest over the closing of the University of Paris’ Nanterre campus. The campus closed after months of escalation of student protests. These protests initially stemmed from a fight for sexual liberation (or the right to have visitors of the opposite sex in dorms) that later radicalized to become a fight for more student influence in the education system, and finally for a complete change of economic and social structure.