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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #281 - unionism, For or against strike funds (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Mon, 2 Apr 2018 09:09:19 +0300

The discussions around this means of financial solidarity animate many union teams, anxious to mobilize more and better employees. But beware, the tool is tricky to handle. ---- After the last social movements, in many unions, what is controversial is how to hold the strike. The question of money arrives very quickly on the table: the precariousness strikes ; wages do not follow and ends of the month are more and more difficult to complete ; some and some are strangled by borrowing ... And all this is a drag on strike action. In any case, is lived and verbalized as such by many and many workers. ---- Even if we must keep in mind that when anger is there, the strike is necessary, and sometimes in the long run, we can not dismiss the cost of the strike for the employees. . This cost is becoming more and more important, especially in the context of the breakdown of union strategies.

In concrete terms, it is often around the issue of the strike banks that the discussions in the union teams are structured. At all levels.

Proximity solidarity

At the local level, these are local strike funds. Where a strike is about to begin, the union or a support group is launching a fundraiser to help the strikers. During the many cleaning strikes in Marseille in 2016, the CNT-SO often resorted to it. The existence of online pool sites facilitates these calls for solidarity, all the more legitimate when we know the wages in the cleaning sector for example. They are not without pitfalls.

First, the online prize pool is dependent on the media notoriety that can strike. For example, Onet's strikers benefited from, among other things, several press articles and the exhibition offered to them by the blogger Emma - followed by more than 250,000 profiles on Facebook - with one of her stories. As a result, nearly 3,000 participants paid more than 65,000 euros to the strike fund of the SUD-Rail Paris-Nord union.

At about the same time, strikers at the Holiday Inn Place de Clichy held 111 days. It is enormous. Yet their online strike fund, launched by the CNT-SO, showed only 356 participants on February 19 ... ten days after the end of the conflict !

Demonstration of Onet's strikers in Saint-Denis

The other question posed by digital strike funds is that of the physical and material experience of solidarity. Fortunately, trade unionists still have their feet on the ground, but we must beware of the risk of losing sight of awareness-raising initiatives for local residents. Meals shared in working-class neighborhoods (" communist soups ", it was said during the revolutionary syndicalist period of the CGT), quest for the flag on the markets, baskets circulating in workshops and services ... so many concrete practices to preserve and / or to find. Besides ensuring the anchoring of a conflict, it is also a way of " class To express the support of workers to other workers.

Strike without counting
After the local conflicts, then comes the question of the national strike fund. There are two ways to think about it.

First scenario, that of a structure guaranteeing its members a sort of " check striker " through a dedicated share of contributions. This is how the CFDT operates with its National Union Action Fund (CNAS, presented on the plant's website as a " service "). At 2 e strike day, every adhérent.e CFDT triggers its right to compensation of seven euros / hour (for full-time salarié.es). The least one can say is that this " insurance " approach questions, individualizing the collective fact that is any strike (and that is even unionism). Moreover we can say that this fund must be relatively rich at the time it is ... so the CFDT launches few strikes.

In some cases, the national strike fund can also be a way to curb a restless base: and the early XX th century, the CGT federation of the Book of "orientation reformist ", held a national strike fund. But to benefit from it, any affiliated union wishing to launch a strike had to obtain, beforehand, the approval of the federal management, more anxious to preserve the bonanza than to encourage the direct action ! [1]

Second scenario: during the global movements, such as that of 2016-2017 against the labor laws and their world, national strike funds were set up, in order to support the workers and workers involved in the labor market. 'action.

Most notorious, donated by CGT Info'Com. It redistributed more than 400,000 euros to 35 representative structures of groups of strikers [2]. And this in all transparency, since a charter subject to signature framed the allocation of sums paid. For several hundred strikers, it was eminently valuable.

The 2016 balance sheet of this national strike fund began with these words: " Financial solidarity is the nerve of the social movement. But we can not stop there. The goal displayed by several militant unions in the battle against the Labor Law was to build the general strike. From then on, a strike fund can appear as a perspective ... of substitution for strike action. The risk being, rather than extending the movement, to encourage the " proxy strike ", by " subsidizing ", in a way, the so-called " blocking " sectors (transport, energy, industries).

But it is rather the extension that is preferred by the strikers of the " blocking " sectors .

We therefore fall back on a wider debate. It is difficult to disconnect strike funds from all union practices and strategies. It is our " models " of mobilization, our ways of engaging in collective action that must be questioned.

Théo Roumier (Solidarity unionist)

[1] See Guillaume Davranche, Too young to die, workers and revolutionaries facing the war (1909-1914) , The Insomniac / Libertalia, 2014.

[2] We can consult the report on the site of this union.

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