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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #279 - Thau Basin: Popular Sete vs. Billionaires Yachts (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Tue, 13 Feb 2018 08:03:31 +0200

When the defense of employment meets the fight against gentrification: in the Hérault, the CGT unions want to mobilize people both as workers and as inhabitants of a territory threatened with being transformed into a tourist attraction zone. ---- The oysters of Bouzigues, the Muscat de Frontignan, the canals of Sète, its port and its feast of the Saint-Louis, its kilometers of beaches ... the territory of the Thau basin echoes in all the imaginaries and returns us to the most beautiful songs of Brassens, famous anarchist of the vintage. ---- But a territory is not just beautiful pictures. A territory is first and foremost a space that inhabitants organize to meet their needs, first and foremost employment and public services. For several weeks now, these two pillars, essential to dignity and emancipation, have been hit by neoliberal waves throughout the Thau Basin (Hérault).

At the end of September, a few days after the announcement of the elimination of thirty positions at the Bassin-de-Thau hospital - a hundred in all since 2013 ! -, the mayor of Sète (and also CEO of the private clinic of the city) announced his desire to " outsource " (we do not say privatize, it's a dirty word) cleaning and pickup services garbage from the city center. They are thus 80 agents and their families, not counting the occasional contracts, who see the horizon darken in the short term.

In addition to this, the TER agreement, negotiated between the Region and the SNCF, plans to close ticket offices in Sète and Frontignan. However, at the same time, projects multimodal exchange pole (PEM) with a cost of several tens of millions of euros are planned on these two municipalities, promising to make empty shells !

We could stop there, but no, unfortunately, the industrial sector is not left out. On the port of Sète, one of the most important on the Mediterranean coast, it is the Saipol plant, a producer of biodiesel, which has to drop the curtain for six months in 2018, putting 89 employees on partial unemployment. With a very strong fear that this shutdown will become permanent. Gold Saipol represents nearly 20 % of the activity of the port. His disappearance would endanger the entire economic sector linked to this central infrastructure: logistics, transport, dockers, etc.

And when the job remains on the port, the rights are no longer respected: the use of casual under precarious contract has become the norm, undermining the permanent dockers who try somehow to resist.

Smoke in the snow

Noting the convergence of attacks against industry and public services, with dramatic consequences on local employment, the CGT unions of the different branches met and decided to organize a highlight on Sète. On Saturday, December 2, a winter morning, an interprofessional event gathered more than 500 people on the docks of the city. A great success for a city of 40,000 inhabitants !

Territorial and hospital officers and employees, employees of the port, railwaymen, dockers, teachers, all together and joined by the population, marched in a compact and dynamic procession to the station, under the flamboyant redness of smoke. distress provided by local fishermen.

A delegation of dockers from the port of Fos-Marseille even made the trip in solidarity with their colleagues from Sète and contributed to the atmosphere. Not to mention a finish under the snow, memorable in these latitudes not used to flakes. With this success, the mobilization must continue in time and duration because it is only the first step of the balance of power to be built.

The " right to the city "

To resist the offensive, the experience of the struggles tends to show us that the key to success lies in an alliance and unfailing solidarity between the workers concerned, the population and the users and users of public services.

In the present case, a unifying and effective motto could be that of the " right to the city and territory for all " [1]. Indeed, behind the attacks against employment hides a real political project. This enterprise of social regression, of utility breaks and industrial jobs, appears more and more for what it is: the face of the iceberg, vast and icy, of capitalist urban restructuring.

A telling example: the same day the privatization of several public services was announced, the local newspaper headlined the creation of a luxury marina in Sète, to accommodate 100-meter yachts (excuse the little ) ! Not sure that a boat parking megalomaniac richissimes concerns the entire population ...

The inhabitants and the inhabitants are not deceived, since very quickly rose a collective against this project of marina for mega-yachts. The link remains to be made with the employees in struggle, but the cause is the same. This restructuring of the territory responds to the capitalist imperatives, and not to the needs of the population and the workers. It will only lead to accelerate the gentrification of the city, the development of luxury tourism. Excluded from the city center and the coast, the popular classes will be pushed back to the periphery.

Workers see their jobs degraded and threatened ; residents and inhabitants are robbed of their living environment. These two populations are in part the same. Unity and solidarity are a prerequisite for upholding the right to work and the right to the city and territory for all.

Julien (AL Hérault)

[1] On this subject, read the special file " The city is ours ! ", Libertarian Alternative, January 2015.

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