Attempts to struggle outside union control

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Below we are publishing two leaflets that demonstrate the effort on the part of what is still a very small minority of the working class to take control of its own struggles[1]. The first one was written and adopted by the general assembly (GA) in Saint-Sernin (Toulouse). The second was produced by some individual participants in the inter-professions GA at the Gare de l’Est (train station in Paris).
 
There are many other examples. In Tours or in Rennes, workers have participated in inter-professional GA’s. Almost everywhere in France, the CNT-AIT (anarcho-syndicalist) has initiated popular and autonomous assemblies.
 
Today as the movement in France has died down these meetings have often become more like struggle groups which provide a space for militant workers from different sectors to come together and prepare for the next round of battles. 
 
The emancipation of the workers will be the work of the workers themselves” (Karl Marx).

 

Leaflet of the GA of Saint-Sernin (Toulouse)

 
Faced with Sarkozy, the media and the police state all determined to smash the current struggle and to discredit it with the most shameful provocations, we say:       
Unemployed, retired, temporary and full-time workers, students in higher education and those still in school,
 
Affirm your unity and take control of your struggles!
 
The mobilisation and enthusiasm of last Tuesday’s demonstration was immense. We have strength in numbers, we now have to deepen our consciousness of the fact that only by taking the struggle into our own hands, by conducting the broadest possible discussion, by uniting across all sectors, with the support of temporary and unemployed workers and students, can we really succeed in imposing the will of the broad masses.
 
Let’s not delay in opening the GAs to everyone, let’s decide on joint actions that extend the struggle and spread solidarity! Let’s share our experience of the recent picketing and blockades; let’s send delegations of support, let’s coordinate our work. Isn’t it time we took the struggle to the biggest sectors of all: Thales, Airbus? The only “violent acts” of ours are in wanting to spread the strike. The real violence comes from the state which generates it and provokes it too.
 
Solidarity with the victims of repression! This struggle of ours is shared by others like those in Spain and Greece: in every country the working class is suffering at the hands of Capital and its irrepressible thirst for accumulation.
The working class in every country is counting on our victory for their future struggles!
 
Let’s get together and share information and perspectives for the struggle in the GA at the end of the demonstration, but also on every evening this week: Union building, Place Saint-Sernin – 6 pm.
 
Leaflet written by the retired, unemployed and employed workers and students at the union building 20/10/2010, http://saint-sernin.internationalisme.fr
 

 
 

Leaflet of a group of individuals from the GA at the Gare de l’Est (Paris)

 
ADDRESS to all workers
 
At the initiative of railway workers from the Gare de l’Estand some teachers on 18th September, around a hundred of us who are salaried workers (from rail, education, postal, farm-produce and computer sectors…), retired, unemployed, students, workers ‘with papers’ and without, unionised and non-unionised, joined forces on 28th September and 5th October to discuss pensions and the broader attacks they are inflicting on us and the perspectives for making the government withdraw the attacks.
 
Thousands of us demonstrated and came out on strike on the recent days of action. The government still didn’t concede anything. Only a mass movement will make it do that. That understanding is emerging following discussion around the indefinite, general, renewable strike and putting a block on the economy…
 
We can decide the form that the movement will take. We have to build it with strike committees in our workplaces and with sovereign general assemblies (GAs) in our neighbourhoods. We must unite the largest possible numbers of the working population, coordinated at the national scale with elected and revocable delegates. We have to decide the forms of action to take and our demands… And not let anyone else do it.
 
Letting union leaders, Chérèque (CFDT), Thibault (CGT) and Cie take decisions for us, will lead to fresh defeats. Chérèque supports 42 years of pension contributions. We no longer have confidence in Thibault after he didn’t call for the legislation to be withdrawn, just as we can’t forget how in 2009 he drank champagne with Sarkozy while thousands of us were laid off, leaving us all to struggle all on our own. We haven’t got confidence in so-called “radicals” anymore. . Mailly (FO) shows his radicalism by shaking hands with Aubry on the demo while the PS (Socialist Party) votes for contributions of 42 years. As regards Southern-Solidarity, the CNT[2] or the far left (LO, NPA), they have no other perspective to offer us than uniting the unions. That’s to say uniting us behind those who want to negotiate a retreat.
 
If today they are pushing the case for renewable strikes, it’s above all to avoid things getting out of their control. Controlling our struggles is what entitles them to be present at the negotiating table… why? So that, as it was written in the letter signed by seven union organisations in the CFTC to Solidarity, “to get across the union organisations’ viewpoint with a perspective of defining all the correct and effective measures to guarantee the sustainability of the pensions’ system by sharing out the costs.” Can anyone believe for a moment that it’s possible to deal with those who’ve attacked our pensions since 1993, with those who have led a methodical demolition of our living and working conditions?
 
The only unity that can force the government and ruling class to back down is the grass roots movement uniting public and private, employed and unemployed, retired workers and youth, domestic and immigrant, union and non-union in joint assemblies and by taking control of our struggles ourselves. We think that withdrawing the pensions’ legislation is our minimum demand. That’s not enough though. Hundreds of thousands of elderly workers are already expected to exist with less than 700 euros a month, while hundreds of thousands of young people scrape by with RSA[3] owing to a lack of jobs. For millions of us, we are already facing questions of whether we will be able to eat, be able to house ourselves or if our health will suffer. That’s what we don’t want.
 
Yes, the attacks on pensions are the tip of the iceberg. Since the crisis began, the ruling class with the help of the state has thrown hundreds of thousands of workers onto the street by cutting thousands of jobs from the public services. And this is only the beginning. The crisis continues and the attacks on us are going to get more and more brutal.
 
To deal with the situation we must not put our trust in the left wing parties (PS, PCF, PG …). They still loyally manage the affairs of the bourgeoisie and never question private industrial and financial property or large-scale land ownership. Moreover in Spain, as in Greece, it is the Left in government who are organising the offensive of Capital against the workers. To protectour pensions, health, education, transport system and so as not to starve, workers will have to take back the wealth they produce to satisfy their needs.
 
In this struggle, we must not appear to be defending any vested interests but those of the whole working population, including the small farmers, fishermen, craftsmen, small shopkeepers, who are plunged into poverty with the capitalist crisis. We have to give them a lead and put ourselves at the forefront of all the struggles to better take the struggle to Capital.
 
Whether working, unemployed, in temporary jobs, working ‘without papers’, and whatever nationality we are, the whole working population is in the same boat.
 
Come along and discuss in the inter-professions GA Tuesday 12th October at 6 pm and Wednesday 13th October at 5 pm. Union building at Métro République
 
A group of full-time and temporary workers from the inter-professions GA at the Gare de l’Est
([email protected]),  8/10/10
 
 
 
 


[1]. We have begun to put any information that demonstrates this on our discussion forum (http://fr.internationalism.org/forum/312/tibo/4365/prenons-nous-nos-luttes-main#comment-1685). Of course we encourage all our readers to not only distribute this information but also to keep us informed of any initiatives that we haven’t yet heard of, by posting them on our forum, for example.
 
[2]. The CNT referred to here is almost certainly not the one mentioned above as playing a role in the formation of general assemblies., the CNT-AIT, which split from the CNT now generally referred to as ‘CNT-Vignoles’ precisely because of its efforts to play the role of a ‘normal’ trade union.
 
[3]. Revenu de Solidarité Active, a new term for social security payments.