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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #290 - Yellow vests: Trade unions: I love you, me neither (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 6 Jan 2019 08:19:10 +0200

As a whole, unionism has missed out on the dynamic that began well before November 17th. Certainly the yellow vests placed us in front of an unprecedented situation. It is tragic, however, that " revolutionary " militants will not be able to adapt to the original ! Major union sectors are trying late to " hang up the cars ", at the cost of a crisis in the CGT. A crisis not useless to a few months of the next Confederal Congress. ---- It is an understatement to say that the trade union movement, for the most part, did not feel the movement of yellow vests. Admittedly, the context was not favorable: launch via the virtual world of the Internet, confused initial claims, a rejection of identified activist groups ; and also the notorious presence of the far right, who had jumped at the opportunity - which was one more reason not to leave room ! Yet, quickly, where the movement was taking shape, union activists realized that important things were happening: those " from below "Gathered together, discussed, acted, created a collective dynamic, challenged the established order. They and they appropriated claims, words of radical orders, which we, the trade unionists, had defended for years.

With the people as it is
Yes, many yellow vests have not taken part in the struggles against labor laws, to defend pensions, nor participate in the days of inter-professional action ; maybe no more to union actions in their company ... when there is a union section on the spot, and when they are in a business and not unemployed, autoentrepreneurs, freelancers, or temps !

Yes, there were little bosses in the promoters of November 17 ; but the next day, most called for a " return to normal ", that is to say, their profits and the exploitation of the mass of yellow vests.

Yes, among the women and men who were on the roundabouts or tolls for weeks, there were people with racist, homophobic, sexist, people who vote for the Right or worse .. But whoever animated Strikes know that the strongest are those where, from the beginning, we find this kind of colleagues. It is the discussions during the strike that make them evolve ; it is the same for yellow vests: on condition of being in the movement and not content to comment on it by pinching the nose.

Frilosity in the union bases
Very few union structures supported the movement before 17 November. Suddenly, those, more numerous, who did it after the success of this day, ran behind. Situation always uncomfortable, moreover vis-à-vis a movement that is wary of organizations. However, we have seen, but not enough, local structures CGT and Solidaires show their support and many make themselves available to the movement: local, media, information relay, action against repression, etc. (It was the same with high school students). More natural was the work to try to extend the revolt within companies, by the strike; that of December 14, which was a failure, but sometimes before or after. The junctions happily exist and develop but it remains (alas) two separate movements: that of yellow vests and that of unions. It was not so difficult to be yellow and red vest !

Beyond a few local situations, the trade union movement has shown an enormous weakness on a subject that is essential: the relationship to the masses. And we will not get away with it, if we want it to change, by the mere denunciation of " union directorates " which, in the end, only follow political lines that we know. The CNT-SO took a stand (in support of the movement) only on the eve of 14 and 15 December. The CNT remained silent. The Revolutionary Syndicalist Committees (CSR) fought the movement from the beginning.

Worse that the misunderstanding will be the December 6 communal communiqué CGT / CFDT / FO / CFTC / CGC / UNSA / FSU condemning the violence ... demonstrators, and hailing " the opening of the dialogue with the government " ! Only the Union Syndicale Solidaires refused to sign this, explaining why ; important CGT trade union structures condemned this positioning. [1]But beyond the national positions, which are not neutral, what must be understood to remedy them are the insufficient reactions of basic union teams. Local unions, trade unions and union sections were immediately on the ground, where things were happening. [2]The vast majority did not dare or not wanted. An occasion, rare, of lost for the union movement of struggle which had there, the possibility to take again massively contact with a whole part of the population which ignores the unions: unemployed and unemployed, precarious, workers and independent workers or small companies ... This lack of determination of the grassroots union teams was already our main concern in 2016/2017 against the Labor laws.

A lost opportunity
The internal debate was already tough before the joint declaration with the CFDT. The latter provoked an outcry: unions, ULs and some DUs already engaged with yellow vests ; but also important structures such as UD Val-de-Marne, Paris, or Bouches-du-Rhone trying to amplify for real maneuvers and blockages with yellow vests. A few months before the CGT confederal conference, the publicly displayed disagreement and the real investment of the activists on the ground is also an opportunity to count themselves in the sectors of the left and to influence the composition of the next confederal direction since it is now that the negotiations and balances are decided ...

Christian and Jean-Yves (AL Business Secretariat)

[1] See the blog www.communisteslibertairescgt.org

[2] It should be noted that the situation in Paris and the suburbs, where the movement of yellow vests did not take, is totally different from that of the rest of France.

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