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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #300 - A year later: Injecting the experience of yellow vests into our union practices (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Thu, 12 Dec 2019 08:31:44 +0200


Self-organization, direct action, solidarity interpro, but also conviviality ... To a certain extent, the yellow vests spontaneously found what made the strength of the syndicalism of the origins. It should not be left without a future. ---- February 2016, the petition " It's better than that " launched on social networks makes the buzz and finally breaks with the lethargy ambient ; a date of mobilization, March 9, out of this initiative, is growing so that unions CGT, Solidaires and FO cling. ---- The movement against the Labor law is launched, it will last four months. This is new in France for a long time, a social movement of magnitude emerges on a question directly related to the work outside the union structures, even if they have quickly seized it. In several cities, the Nuits debout that will follow will offer a framework of mobilization to people far removed from unionism and will give a new character to this social protest.

November 2018, the movement of yellow vests confirms this trend and digs the furrow ; he was born and then first developed completely outside the unions.

The successive defeats of trade unionism in the face of massive social confrontations and its difficulty in reaching an ever larger part of the wage-earners, the precarious and the employees of small enterprises in the first place, certainly explain these atypical forms of mobilization.

We analyze these emergences as answers to an ever more degraded social situation in which trade unionism, because it is powerless to oppose it, is less and less considered as a perspective. We therefore think it is likely that in the future these situations will be repeated. Should trade unionism be considered an inefficient and outdated tool ?

Libertarians, we are for a radical change of society. For us, it will necessarily pass through a control of production by the population, which is essential if we want to break with capitalism. As such, because it remains the most important means of regrouping the exploited in their workplace and that it allows to act on the class antagonisms, still with victories on small scales, we think trade unionism remains a tool that may be relevant. But, for it to remain useful and interesting, we think it is essential and urgent to question the shortcomings of syndicalism to modify it and to (re) make it a tool for moving towards the emancipation of the exploited.

The following lines are a contribution of libertarian syndicalists to this reflection and not an analysis of union links / yellow vests.

Accept the situation, be open
It seems to us first of all that trade unionists must take note of this state of affairs: for good and / or bad reasons, unionism is not, for many exploited, the indispensable and obvious structure of struggle. And this, even if the defended claims are close or convergent. The reflex that is too often present in trade union structures to see indifference or hostility first and foremost is that external struggle initiatives must be undermined.

The attitude of many departmental or local unions of the CGT is often quite caricatured from this point of view, the movement of yellow vests has again illustrated. This reflex prevails among trade unionists in general.

Yet, the balance must be done ; on global conflicts, trade unionism has lost all the battles since 1995. The withdrawal of Villepin's government on the CPE in 2006 was obtained thanks to a joint struggle youth student-unions [1]. What push to modesty and especially to understand that, despite its inescapable place by its ability to mobilize, unionism can not win alone.

From this must flow, in our opinion, an open attitude towards parasyndical initiatives, different collectives, coordinations, etc. as soon as they have the potential to place themselves on class ground. The depoliticization, the attenuation of class consciousness and the mistrust of those who have made the choice to organize do not facilitate this " state of mind ", the beginning of the movement of yellow vests has also shown [2].

But these links must be made, the militant experiences must be put at the service of this arduous work. Moreover, trade unionists have largely contributed to weave these links in 2016 or with yellow vests, sometimes with the support of their structures, too often in isolation ... Syndicalism, when it has the objective, has a privileged place to bind together those who are struggling and certainly has everything to gain by doing so.

Find the gnaque
The movement of yellow vests marked by its modes of action. Blockades of roundabouts and first-week roads have actually hindered economic flows in certain geographic areas. By freeing highways tolls, by conducting visible demonstrations that disrupt the conduct of business in the city, yellow jackets have assumed the power struggle against the power with great determination. They have shown that, even at relatively few and many, one can hinder power.

The balance of power and determination are precisely the essential elements of trade unionism, too often stuck in ambiguous links with institutions. The time is over when the government let go of the ballast if it judged a social movement potentially threatening for him. In addition to public opinion movements putting many people on the street, trade unionism must urgently reconnect with the construction of confrontational movements with power by employing the historical methods of the labor movement (hard strikes, blockades, sabotage, boycotts, etc.). which enabled us to snatch the main social conquests.

Easier said than done, it's true.

This makes it necessary to consider seriously the launching of a strike, to prepare it well in advance, building with the workers the demands that they will defend with determination. Reinventing strike banks and interprofessional solidarities. The ritual and losing strikes, the events that go unnoticed, discourage even the most convinced activists.

Now, simple things can be done without necessarily being on the riot model. For example, what prevents, if not the political will, to split in three a trade union event of 3,000 people to block strategic locations of a city ?

To have a greater reach, these reflexes to resume must come first trade unionists. He is often opposed to the supposed passivity of the participants in the actions. Again, the movement of yellow vests has at least partially denied this, as is the support by many of the " head processions ". And this determination to fight to win seems to be expanding in recent times and can be seen in different fields of union action.

Who would have thought that secondary school teachers, who had accustomed us to a degree of docility, would boycott on a large scale the supervision of the baccalaureate on June 17, 2019 [3]and that the profession would support the " disobedient " ?

To keep it attractive, we believe that trade unionism must resume this culture of combativeness. We must anchor our practices first in the balance of power before running behind a social dialogue with which capitalism is only marginally in need of embarrassment.

Have a structured phase
During this year 2019, yellow vests organized in AG have made living class solidarity by supporting various struggles in the Post Office, hospitals, especially in the National Education. Paradoxically, they were often in greater numbers than trade unionists in other sectors. The Confederate trade unions are nevertheless structured around this concern, but it remains too often superficial and the preserve of a few permanent ones.

It is necessary to revitalize this interprofessional link by passing on information on the struggles of other sectors and by applying a direct solidarity (presence on pickets, information to relay and popularization of the struggles, logistical and financial support, press contacts, etc.). .

In the same way, we must strive to revitalize local structures (UL, UD) or to invent new ones ; Like the roundabouts of yellow vests, they can be thought of in user-friendly dimensions that can revive the class belonging and solidarity of the exploited of the same geographical area.

There is also a huge challenge to encourage the creation of sectoral unions and no longer a business in order to respond to changes in the wage system. Small businesses are the majority, the mobility of employees, precarious or not, very important. In these circumstances, it is difficult to support a company union with few employees subject to the repeated departures of its members. A sector union helps to maintain continuity, to number, to collectivize experiences and to promote mutual assistance.

Trade unionism must make its revolution in the fields of unionization. It must be structurally able to organize precarious workers as self-employed workers. The precarious, if they and they are destined to stay in the same professional field, must be able to remain in the same union, regardless of their periods without employment (the issue of sector unions is also operative).

For those who juggle between different sectors of activity, unemployed and precarious unions must be favored and benefit from true interprofessional solidarity. This concern must be central among trade unionists, it is favored when the precarious unionize and militate, embodying concretely their status within the unions. Let us remember that, especially through labor grants, trade unionism has been built on the precariat [4]!

Finally, we point out, without addressing it here, the question of the unity of struggle syndicalism which, in a context of the push of co-managerial unions, seems unavoidable.

Want to change society
Many people have joined the movement of yellow vests on political issues: unequal distribution of wealth, rejection of the political class, search for a truly democratic form of organization, environmental issues, etc.

The combined weight of corporatism on the one hand, left and extreme left parties on the other hand, confined unionism to immediate demands. Global issues have been delegated to politicians. The carelessness of these makes this scheme inoperative at the same time that it discredits those who wear them, and therefore the unions. To be attractive and credible, trade unionism must reclaim the political question and no longer outsource it to politicians and the state.

For us, unionism must be conceived as a tool that combines improvements in the daily lives of workers (immediate demands) and the goal of revolutionary transformation of society by and for the exploited. Without making it an exclusive and invasive concern, we think it is important to reintegrate our unions with this revolutionary dimension.

Return to the sources, rebuild !
Openness and solidarity with the self-organized forms of struggle that exploits give to themselves, mistrust of institutions and the balance of power assumed against them, the importance of inter-professional solidarities, structuring adapted to new forms of work organization, an affirmed desire to break with capitalism and the state to self-manage society, all of which we believe are necessary to develop within the trade union structures. All these ideas are not new, they are constitutive of the syndicalism of the origins, syndicalism when it had its revolutionary dimension.

The era requires, in our opinion, this return to the sources and can meet a real echo, the movement of yellow vests can be understood as symptomatic of these aspirations more or less diffuse. Against us, first of all, the increasingly fierce repression of the employers and the state, and the resignation of the greatest number ; but also the vertical, authoritarian and bureaucratic workings within our union structures, the pitfalls of integration and co-management and those who want to make the union the transmission belt of their parties.

The task is ample, the adversities numerous. But this is the job to be done if we do not want to make a clean sweep of the sacrifices of our old and old, and their social conquests, if we want to give a future to the unionism of struggle and especially if we want an emancipatory society.

Commission world of work and trade unionism of UCL Montpellier

[1] See " CPE: For union leadership, the parenthesis is finally closed ", Alternative libertarian , June 2006.

[2] " Syndicates: I love you, me either ", Libertarian Alternative , January 2019.

[3] " Baccalaureate 2019: strike with mention ", Libertarian Alternative , September 2019.

[4] " With Francine, Souleymane and Leila, precarious and trade unionists ", Alternative Libertaire , November 2018.

https://www.unioncommunistelibertaire.org/?Un-an-apres-Injecter-l-experience-des-gilets-jaunes-dans-nos-pratiques
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