Yellow vests and unions: after the February 5 demonstrations, a clear calling from the union leaderships to a general strike and the blockage of economy is necessary.
By Gaston Lefranc (February 6, 2019)
The February 5 demonstrations were summoned by the CGT and Solidaires, and timidly and locally by the FO and the FSU. They were also summoned by the coordination of the Assembly of Assemblies of the yellow vests from Commercy and the figures of the movement (Eric Drouet, François Boulo, etc.). The columns grouped yellow vests and unionists without differencing, in true convergence. This is very positive.
Demonstrations were very important: 137.200 people according to the police, almost 300.000 people according to the CGT, protested in France, a similar level than this last October 9. This is much greater than last December 14. The fact that most groups of yellow vests called the demonstrations, with a different content (the objective of a general strike, the blockage of economy), contributed to the broadness of the demonstrations.
In Paris, between 14.000 and 30.000 people protested, in an enormous demonstration that gathered a third of the protestors (see also the reports from our correspondents). In the Concord Plaza, the CRS violently attacked the pacific protestors with clubs, gas and rubber bullets. Repression continued and the government did not change its standing.
This day of mobilization was not ordinary. It was accompanied by many road blockages. On the night of February 4 to February 5, hundreds of yellow vests and members of the CGT blocked the entrances of the Rungis market. Many universities were also blocked.
Despite the positive aspects of this day, it did not go further. The responsibility falls entirely on the union leaderships. Instead of supporting in the callings of the yellow vests to launch a calling to a general strike and the blockage of economy, they clarified that it should be a mobilization day as any other. Martínez, who after three months of mobilization, finally said “to acknowledge” the yellow vests (after having spit in their faces…). Before this day, he said the next mobilization day would be in over a month, in mid-March. He also stated the general strike was “a myth that meant nothing”! Martínez, therefore, insists in limiting his union perspective to isolated days of action, which have proven to be inefficient! On their part, Solidaires shows the need to go beyond the days of action, but they do not make a clear calling to the CGT leadership to summon a general strike.
Many workers are willing to fully participate in the struggle if the union leaders organize a specific and believable plan. But they do not want false days of action from the union bureaucracies. The strength of the movement of the vests is they shook the routines of the bureaucrats, who are trapped in social dialogue and routine demonstrations. To actually defeat Macron, it is necessary to block the country, and this necessarily means mass strike.
Everywhere, in our work places, in General Assemblies of yellow vests, we must discuss the situation and pose all matters without taboos. We must struggle to impose on our union leaders a battle plan to organize a strike that blocks the profits. Union apparatus must be used to establish strategic blockages related to the General Assemblies of the yellow vests. We have no other alternative but to develop self-organization in our work places to gather unionized and non-unionized members, to create links with the General Assemblies of yellow vests and decide on actions that contribute to expand the movement.
The convergence between yellow vests and unions of this past February 5, should not stop there. It must continue in the Actions this Saturday. It is necessary to reinforce mobilization for Actions on the 13, 14 … forcing the union leaderships to mobilize for the demonstrations and actions of Saturday. Mainly, it is necessary to go beyond mobilization, beyond the repetition of the demonstrations on Saturday.
Out with Macron! Out with the patrons’ government (Medef)!
Let us continue the fight for the general strike and the blockage of economy!
Translation: Ale Ramírez