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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #289 - Renault: At the Douai plant, " production ? It is death " (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]
Tue, 1 Jan 2019 09:11:07 +0200
At the factory, since the battles lost against Labor laws, unionism is weakened, and the
atmosphere as gray as our work blues. There is enough to revolt: violence and dangerous
repetitive work, shenanigans, intimidation and threats ... It is the temporary workers who
suffer the most. ---- Already 4 am, the alarm clock pulls me out of bed. A few minutes
later I am in the kitchen, in blue work, swallowing a coffee and ... some pills to relieve
tendon pain. It is only Wednesday and already the fatigue of the week is accumulating. My
old Ford starts, phew ! Let's go for the daily commute, with the same cars on the road,
the same people, the same car park on which I park after having crossed the large porch
proclaiming " Welcome to the Georges-Besse factory - Renault Douai ".
Georges Besse, the CEO of Renault executed by the group Direct Action in 1986, considered
that this factory, built in 1970, was " a mistake " . At the time, the state-owned
shareholder had insisted that it be implanted in the Douaisis, promised mass unemployment
by the closure of coal mines. By the end of the 1970s, 8,500 employees were working there.
Today we are 3,400 on permanent contracts ; 800 to 1,300 temporary workers according to
the periods ; 15 to 20 % of women.
On the chain the pace (61 vehicles per hour !) Is untenable, despite anxiolytics and
The production is divided between several buildings, on nearly 350 hectares. In the " DB
building ", we receive and assemble the organs of the engines: starter, alternator,
radiator and a whole lot of other stuff ... In stamping and sheet metal buildings, huge
presses the size of a small building transform large rolls of sheet metal (each costs
millions of euros ...) in covers, sides of cases, wings, etc. They will then be welded and
assembled by robots before deburring. At the painting building, the still naked crates are
immersed in huge baths of paint before sending them to the assembly building, the " DA ".
". There, on an assembly line that runs on two floors, all the rest of the vehicle is
assembled (dashboard, steering wheel, seats, electronics, options, windows). The completed
vehicle is tested, then parked on a parking lot from which the trucks of the Cat will
embark the Space, Talisman and other Scenic.
Struggles among temporary workers
At this moment, on the factory, the atmosphere is as gray as our work blues. The lost
battle against the labor laws weighs heavily on morale. Two combative unions coexist on
the site. The CGT is quite close to unsubstantial France, and SOUTH more politically
independent, but both carry similar claims and often act together. Unfortunately, the
intermittent calls to the strike, in 2016 and 2017, mobilized only convinced. On one of
the days of action, a group of young temporary workers was on the verge of going on
strike, but the management has stifled the rebellion in the bud. The team leaders came
running to threaten them ( " It's forbidden for temporary workers ! And your contract ?
"). SOUTH and the CGT, parties in protest at that time, could not intervene, and there was
nothing to expect from FO and the CFDT, non-strikers for the most part.
Reformers (claimed) of FO, the majority, do not hesitate to explain to the operators that
they have more to gain by collaborating with the management rather than by fighting. Only
the CFDT is more yellow, with caricature leaflets boasting of " winning " rolls and sweets
for the staff !
Compulsory volunteering infernal rates
There is enough to revolt at Renault Douai. At the very bottom of the scale, it is the
temporary workers who cash the most, forced to accept overtime. They are the first victims
of Saturday said " volunteering " - ironically renamed " voluntary volunteering " . The
team leader regularly makes individual canvassing to fill his schedule of " volunteers "
threatening them in a veiled way of non-renewal of their contract.
No wonder we drag our feet to work on Saturday in this factory worthy of Germinal .
Violence of repetitive work, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), intimidation and threats,
not to mention the dangerous working conditions, as at the PSA plant in Trith-Saint-Léger .
It was discovered that the chain was sometimes accelerated in secret ...
To the question " what is production ? Operators and operators will answer: " Production
is death. On the chain, the pace (61 vehicles per hour !) Is grueling despite anxiolytics
and painkillers. It was discovered that it was sometimes accelerated in secret, just to
catch up. Before a delegate notices and protests, schemers put the speed back to normal
... This summer, because of high temperatures, an interim has caused discomfort. Chain
stopped. Alerted, the head of the editing department came running. Not to take his news,
but to assess the lost time and restart production as soon as possible.
In fact, it is common that if an agency worker is injured on the chain, the leaders
dissuade him from going to the infirmary. A leader takes the wounded to the bathroom and
then, a disinfectant blow on the wound, a bandage, and return to production. The goal ? Do
not raise the curve of work accidents, to give a model factory image in terms of safety.
We must " be competitive with the other factories of the group, " we are told, otherwise "
the site will close " ! SUD and the CGT keep denouncing this organization of work, but the
management turns a deaf ear, obsessed by its " kaizen " projects . Behind this managerial
jargon and its goal of " improvement of ergonomics " hides a trivial reality: it is to
locate the positions that could be removed to redistribute tasks to other workers,
preferably temporary. For fear of losing his job, the interim does not protest ...
Fight against suffering at work
How to deal with the violence of bosses and work ? The only foci of possible resistance
here are SOUTH and the CGT, even if they are weakened. It is through mutual help and
collective struggle that everyone can gain confidence and invest. Today, we must fight for
less suffering at work. Tomorrow, we will fight for the socialization of the means of
production, under the control of the workers. When the first and the first concerned will
organize the production themselves, it will be the end of the suffering, the reign of the
chiefs and the mistreatment. We can invent a society rid of capitalism and Carlos Ghosn
and Thierry Bolloré of all kinds !
Damien (AL Douai)
 Read " Peugeot-PSA: they push their pace, we count our dead ", Alternative libertarian
, October 2018.
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