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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #285 - SNCF Railroad Strike: a machine to lose (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 22 Jul 2018 09:22:59 +0300

The social movement in rail that started in the spring does not lack originality: by its amplitude, by its form, by the inter-union relations, or by the virtual disappearance of the self-organization of the struggle. But above all, it was organized as an impressive machine to lose, despite a very important initial mobilization of railway and railway workers. ---- The strike at the SNCF began on April 3, after a first episode on March 22. But the union federations CGT, Unsa and CFDT imposed a calendar of 36 strike days spread over three months ; in the form of 18 two-day strikes. The SUD-Rail and FO federations have been talking about an extendable strike but have not organized it. ---- The turning point of March 22 ---- From the beginning, the union federations chose not to create a dynamic: it was not until a month after the government and employer announcements that a perspective of action was proposed. It was on March 15 that they announced the now famous " calendar of the strike ". In SUD-Rail, but also the CGT, it caused a lot of reactions. SUD-Rail filed a renewable notice, without joining the CGT, Unsa and CFDT federations ; however, under cover of unity, the critics were killed and it was a mistake [1]. It could have been repaired a few days later. Indeed, planned well before the Spinetta report or the railway pact, a national demonstration of railway and railway workers was organized on March 22, and it was a success. But the most important event was the number of strikers: according to the figures of the management, more than 35 % of staff (including management), whereas only the Unsa and SUD-Rail federations called for a strike. It was therefore possible to bounce back on this event to impose another movement from early April, despite the interfederal call of April 15. If all the trade union structures favorable to an extendable strike had campaigned during two weeks to organize it, things would have been different at the beginning of April. This was not the case, and it paid off afterwards.

The trap of 2 days out of 5
The CGT Federation's week-long campaign on " finding a form of action that is cheap for strikers " weighed; especially since, most of the time, the ideological battle to counter this was not carried out, in the name of unity that should not be weakened, or by agreement with this positioning, however, well below the stakes. . As a result, there was no real debate among the mass of railway workers and railway workers about the form of the action. The schedule of the 18 48-hour strikes has become clear evidence of departure. There was the trap. Because once the cases launched thus, it was almost certain that one would arrive at this situation: successive strikes which occupy the media space, but a number of strikers who is not at the height, and especially the impossibility of to create a dynamic of self-organization, of strike control by the strikers. This last element is decisive: not only

More than a third of SNCF staff must complete an " Individual Declaration of Intent (DII) " to strike, 48 hours before, specifying on which notice. Inevitably, the most common reference was the unitary (CGT / Unsa / CFDT), 48 hours, non-renewable. From that point onwards, drivers, controllers, controllers and other personnel who had filed their DII could not continue the strike unless they were in an irregular situation [2]. For the others, the advertising on the calendar from April 3 to June 29 pushed to choose its strike dates among the 36 proposed: how many times the activists have heard " no, the strike tomorrow, I do not do not do it; but I will do the 18th and the 19th, and not the next but the next one ... " ? Over time, it played more and more on the percentage of strikers, every day a number of them and they passing their turn ; a phenomenon that does not exist in a reconductible strike: we are not striker in not striking! Certainly, colleagues stop the movement before the end, but daily GAs and strike talks often allow this decision to be postponed. The number of strikers was very uneven according to the categories. Very strong among the driving agents, the strike has never taken the height of what must be a national strike that lasts, among the commercial agents of the stations, the personnel of the maintenance of the installations or in the workshops. This is largely inherent in the terms and conditions.

And the claims ?
By imposing its schedule of non-renewable strikes, the CGT federation was able to finish (momentarily, let us not be afraid !) With the practice of the general assemblies where the strikers really decide their strike ; it had been acquired for more than thirty years at the SNCF (the strike of November 1986 / December 1987) that many union bureaucrats did not stop fighting. Certainly, for form, general meetings remain ; but there is nothing left to discuss: where the debate on the form of action was put, the union responses (CGT, Unsa, CFDT, but sometimes also SUD-Rail) were unambiguous: either " no question of discussing this in AG, since there is an inter-federal calendar ", ie" you can decide what you want in AG, we will stick to interfederal calendar . And then, frankly: since everyone had the program of strikes from April 3 to June 29, why participate in general meetings ?

The four federations had agreed on an eight-point platform, including the abandonment of the government rail pact. Over the days, the unit leaflets have " forgotten " this claim book, to highlight the need for " round tables ", " negotiations " and other " tripartite meetings " whose content seemed to become a matter of secondary importance [3]. That's not why strikers lose pay days ! Again, the weakness of the GA did not help to raise the bar.

A movement that lasts, lasts, lasts ...
Unsa and CFDT had no doubt planned to leave the strike well before the end of June: government policy that intends to ignore, weaken and destroy all trade union organizations prevented them. There was no way out ! The baccalaureate period, the end of the initial quarterly calendar provided them with the expected pretext. But fundamentally, the question is: " why did the CGT federation, once again, choose to favor unity with Unsa and CFDT instead of joining forces with SUD-Rail and FO ? ". And above all, " what do we need to work for the combative teams of the CGT, SUD-Rail and FO manage to thwart these maneuvers in the future, failing to renew a scenario too often known in recent years? "

The movement continues, but what is its effect ? This is the crux of the problem. For us, the strike is to win ; negotiations must be under the pressure of strikers ; it is a moment of break with the system in place that allows to consider other, stronger. Those who only wanted to " show their strength Are faced with a major problem: government and employers do not intend to negotiate, only the balance of power can make them crack. And it goes through a blockage of the economy, a blockage in the duration of the rail activity. But it is not by multiplying the loss of wages due to a series of non-renewable strikes that a renewed strike is prepared under the best conditions. The movement lasts, but under what conditions ! The leaders of the strike are, for many, very skeptical for a long time about how it unfolds ; that does not create the optimal conditions for its success.

Railroad workers and railroad workers unbridled [4]

[1] This is said without the slightest pretension to dictate the truth ... especially a posteriori. We, activists and activists libertarians of the rail sector, if we immediately criticized and challenged the choice of 18 square strikes, did not measure how it closed the door to any dynamics afterwards.

[2] Of course, a strike without notice or out of the existing ones is possible and has been seen many times in the past ... provided you have created a dynamic, a collective craze that make you forget these legal details.

[3] The episode of the referendum by which the CGT federations, Unsa, SUD-Rail and CFDT asked, after a month of strikes, whether the railwaymen and railwaymen were in agreement or not with the government, is a little similar . 95 % of voters (61 % participation) refused the government's railway plan. Confirmation certainly ; but what interest ? Tens of thousands of railway and railway workers had already given their opinion since early April by participating in the strike ! Note that, contrary to what the federations were selling, the referendum did not allow any rebound in the mobilization: the militant energy would have been more effectively used otherwise.

[4] Find them on Leraildechaine.org. Due to a lack of space, this article does not deal with important topics but we have had to put aside for this time: the strike funds ; the contradiction between the claim of " convergences of the struggles " and the fact, that including in the railway sector the strike, did not affect other companies than the SNCF ; the differences between delegate coordinations mandated by their AG, gathering strikers organizing actions and committees unrepresentative ; the illegal practices of bosses who want to scare us (payroll deductions well beyond strike days, intimidation letters before and after actions, etc.).

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