Archive for the ‘France’ Category

On July 5, we ran an article on an important strike by banana workers on the island of Guadeloupe, one of France’s colonial possessions in the Caribbean Sea.  We can now report the banana workers have won!  Below is an article from the French revolutionary weekly Lutte Ouvriere (July 7) reporting on their victory.

After 42 days on strike, the banana workers of Guadeloupe have made the bosses give in. Wednesday, June 28, they agreed to pay the workers what they owed them for holiday pay, overtime, and other things.

The strike committee already made sure that a calculation was made for each worker for what was owed for the last three years. For some, this came to a few thousand euros. The bosses also agreed to pay for the days of strike and they made a first payment of 700 euros to the workers on Monday, July 3.

They also agreed on some first steps to improve the terrible (more…)

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At the annual fête de Lutte Ouvriere

The French revolutionary current Lutte Ouvriere produces scores of weekly workplace bulletins.  The bulletins are about particular issues in the workplaces while also containing a national editorial.  Below is the editorial that appeared in the June 19 workplace bulletins:

Macron won a strong majority in the second round of the parliamentary election. He is now confident that he will have the indiscriminate support he needs to push through the measures announced in his program.

For over fifty years, what passed for democracy in France was a system in which “majority” parties alternated power under labels such as The Republicans (LR) or Socialist Party (PS). Macron’s “new” majority boasts of having eliminated the professional politicians of yesterday’s majority parties. But some of them have found a way to survive by swearing allegiance to Macron.

The Macronite leaders are also proud of having made room in Parliament for what they call MPs from “civilian society”. However, these MPs are entrepreneurs, start-up bosses, company CEOs, high-level managers, property owners. They belong to petty- or middle-bourgeois circles whose main focus is the well-being of big bourgeois capital owners.

The “working-class” electorate (manual workers, jobless workers, retired workers, etc.) stayed well away from the elections. Average abstention reached a record high at (more…)

The following article was translated by the US-based Spark group from a leaflet put out by Combat Ouvrier, a revolutionary workers group  active on the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique which are still run by France.  The conditions of these workers are a reminder of the impact of imperialism and the division of the world between imperialist countries like New Zealand and the super-exploited masses of the Third World, like the Caribbean banana workers.

The Reasons for their Anger

The banana workers have been on strike in more than 17 plantations around the districts of Capesterre-Belle-Eau and Saint Claude on Guadeloupe. The strike began on May 18. A mobilization this big hasn’t been seen in more than 30 years. The victory of the strike at the plantation “Bois Debout” inspired the workers on the other plantations to strike as well. The workers at this plantation won between (more…)

by René Gimpel

And so it came to pass – the prodigal obtained his majority. Emmanuel Macron, youngest French president and elected to public office for the first time, last year conjured up ex nihilo a political party, La République en Marche (LRM) and has seen it obtain a solid majority in the general election. Half his new national assembly members had never been in politics before, half are women, all owe their appointment to Macron personally and all have signed a pledge to carry out the president’s programme, which Macron claims is synonymous with a ‘programme for France’. In the 17th century, the absolutist king, Louis XIV, proclaimed: “The state is myself” – something of this claim adheres to Emmanuel Macron.

LRM has 308 of the 577 seats and its close ally, Mouvement Démocrate, a further 42. The two parties are in lockstep. Meanwhile, the conservatives, Les Républicains, drop from 199 seats to 113 – they may split into pro- and anti-Macron factions, as the president tries to woo more to come into his big tent. Most dramatic of all, the Socialists, who held 284 seats, are reduced to a rump of (more…)

Philippe Poutou

by Marisela Trevin
April 10, 2017

It was as if an unspoken, mutually protective code of silence had been established among the candidates leading the polls in this year’s French presidential debates. Despite their scandal-ridden campaigns, against the backdrop of the collapse of the traditional French party system, neither Fillon, of the right-wing party The Republicans, nor Le Pen, of the far-right National Front, had been asked to answer to the multiple accusations against them regarding the misappropriation of public funds.

Piercing the bubble

Unlike the first debate, in which only five of the eleven presidential candidates had participated, the second debate on April 4 featured all of the candidates, including the New Anti-Capitalist Party’s Philippe Poutou, who made it a point to pierce the French political establishment’s bubble before millions of viewers, while expressing the need for a radical change in French politics and society.

Protest against the French social democratic government’s attacks on workers and youth rights (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Fillon smiled rigidly, then affected outrage and threatened to sue as Poutou exposed his hypocrisy. “Fillon says he’s worried about the debt, but he thinks less about the matter when he’s dipping into the public treasury,” he quipped. “These guys tell us that we need austerity and then they misappropriate public funds.”

Marine Le Pen was rendered speechless when Poutou addressed her own scandals, which had been widely covered by the media, like those of Fillon, but for which she had not been held accountable in the debates until then. “Then we have Le Pen. (…) She takes money from the public treasury as well. Not here, but in Europe. She’s anti-European, so she doesn’t mind taking money from Europe. And what’s worse, the National Front, which claims to be against the system, doesn’t mind seeking protection from the system’s laws. So she’s refused to appear before the court when she was summoned by the police.” When Le Pen replied “So in this case, you’re in favor of the police,” Poutou retorted “When we get summoned by the police, we don’t have workers’ immunity.” The audience burst into applause.

Contrast

The contrast could not be starker. On one hand, the political establishment’s rigid, highly-groomed candidates, stuck to their tired playbooks. On the other, a factory worker dressed in a (more…)

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

But only if the masses choose to use that potential power. . .

One of our biggest concerns at Redline is that, while workers’ rights, living standards and general conditions of life have been made worse over the past 30 years, workers’ resistance has declined to negligible levels.  Moreover, the rare tussle that does take place is a defensive one.  Workers in this country, with the possible exception of the early days of Unite union when it was organising new workplaces and fighting to get contracts for new union members, haven’t been going on the offensive for several decades now.

imagesSometimes it seems that two generations of workers got defeated – through the 1980s and 1990s – and the next generation therefore hasn’t had a fighting spirit and class consciousness passed on to it nor developed these through its own experiences.

But if workers here have forgotten or, in the case of the new generation, not yet learned what resistance is let alone what going on the offensive is, there is no shortage of examples of powerful workers’ upsurges and of workers’ workers_power_lets_organize_against_capitalismresistance pointing to, or at least offering a glimpse of the potential for, alternative ways of organising economic, social and political life.

The really big stuff: dress rehearsals for workers’ emancipation
France, May-June 1968: the glimmer of revolution
Forms of popular power in Chile, 1970-1973
The grandeur of workers’ revolution: Portugal, 1974

History’s biggest general strike (2013)
History’s biggest strike: Indian workers show us how

Recent Workplace Occupations (and one from 1989)
Workers occupy Paris Bakery, Moore St, Dublin
When workers occupied – the Cockatoo Island occupation of 1989

Portugal 1974

Portugal 1974

Factory takeover in Argentina sees discussions on workers power, women’s liberation
Greek lessons: workers occupy factory, continue production
Video on the Vio.me struggle
Greek factory: “the machines of self-management have been turned on”
Workers’ self-management only solution: interview with spokesperson for the Vio.me occupation

Resisting austerity and taking on the state in Ireland
Working class resists water tax in south of Ireland

Working class community organising against Class A drug pushers
Standing up for ourselves: a brief history of the IWCA’s campaign against Class A drug dealers in Blackbird Leys

What about New Zealand?
When workers had class
Which way forward for workers and unions?

Further reading:
Whatever happened to workers’ resistance?