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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #312 - Unionism, Helping a fight "from the outside": the strike at the Parc clinic (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 15 Jan 2021 09:58:01 +0200

In Nantes, the double mobilization of trade union and feminist networks "outside" a company helped to bring a strike out of its isolation, and to achieve victory. Story by UCL comrades involved. ---- The Parc clinic is a small establishment in Nantes with barely 50 employees, specializing in psychiatry. It was bought a few years ago by a private group of Australian origin, Ramsay. Since then, working conditions have deteriorated: non-replacement of colleagues on leave, understaffing, multifunction employees, lack of training ... All this for very low salaries, frozen for years: 1,130 euros net monthly for a nursing assistant with five years of seniority and one weekend on call per month !
As often, however, it is not the money that is lacking at Ramsay France, with a turnover of 3.4 million euros, up 52% over one year.

On June 16, 2020, the employees of the clinic went on strike, responding to the national call for health, out of confinement. For many, this was a first. All the following summer, the employees of the Park increased the number of walkouts with pickets. Very close-knit team, excellent atmosphere between colleagues whatever the status: nurses, nursing assistants or administrative. A puzzling determination, far from the pessimism of the time.

Big problem, however: the staff representatives (CGT) are among the only non-strikers ! They even clumsily try to reconcile with management. However, the strikers are still largely in the majority, even if the requisitions of personnel prevent really impacting the functioning of the clinic. A protest book is given to management, but the latter despises him.

On September 17, on the evening of a new national day of action, the strikers decided, without warning the director, not to return to work the next day. The renewable strike is launched. And, against all odds, it will last thirty days ! Opposite, a direction of combat which will end up releasing timidly an increase of 60 euros net monthly and a bonus of 100 euros. A mixed victory (not so bad in the period) but an exemplary fight.

How did UCL activists help ?

The union tool on the front line
From the summer, activists from UCL Nantes pass on the picket line to discuss with the strikers and express their support. A basic approach whose importance should not be underestimated. In addition to allowing libertarian activists to keep their feet in the reality of struggles and their needs, any striker knows how much each testimony of solidarity counts and encourages in the face of adversity.

It is our role to tell our class that it is right to defend itself, that our struggles are legitimate and that its difficulties are shared by millions of employees. And when possible and / or necessary, it is necessary to know how to go further, to provide strikers with additional tools of struggle.

And for libertarian communists, the union tool is a necessary lever. Thus the Solidaires 44 union, which UCL comrades participate in leading, and the SUD-Santé-sociaux union will act to promote the strike in the press and in activist networks. Trade unionists from all sectors will thus come regularly to show their support. A strike fund is matched by the unions, and nearly 13,000 euros are collected.

The isolation is broken thanks to the work of the activists and the striking collective feels more supported than ever. The CGT, realizing the inaction of its elected officials, is trying to catch up by dispatching activists from the sector, who will be of vital help thanks to their solid legal service.

Because in the background of the strike, the question of requisitions and their legality arises. Thanks to lawyers from the CGT-Santé federation, the management's requisitions ended up being canceled, which resulted in the closure of the clinic, putting Ramsay in real difficulty.

Along with the use of the union tool, support for strikers has been able to advance through the collective Féministes Révolutionnaires, in which UCL activists actively participate.

cc Didier Raynaud / Solidarity
Class feminism in action
From August, activists of this collective were able to meet employees of the clinic, the vast majority of whom are women. However, presenting oneself as a feminist collective to employees fighting for their working conditions is not necessarily straightforward. But the contact worked, first because the collective had publicly expressed itself, during the confinement, on the working conditions of women, especially in health. Still, it is the almost daily support on the picket line, with the loan of a megaphone, coffee thermos, dissemination of information on social networks and relay of the pot, which have made it possible to build confidence.

At the end of the mobilization, a support evening for strikers in the Park was organized with the presence of women strikers from the Ibis Batignolles hotel . This experience shows the support that external groups can represent during a strike. While they cannot substitute for the union tool to build the balance of power, they provide the symbolic and material support necessary to hold out over time. The action of the Revolutionary Feminists collective provides a practical example of a class feminism, reactive, capable of making the link between strikers and other workers, by providing a feminist analysis of the situation.

The libertarian communists were therefore able, on their modest scale, to provide concrete and useful support, while forging links for the future. This support was achieved by mobilizing their union or feminist organizations. These checks and balances can provide significant legal, financial and media assistance. But for that, it is still necessary to contribute to build and animate these organizations in a self-management way, with the view that they grow and help to win victories for our class.

Anna and Benjamin (UCL Nantes)

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