The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Struggle Pays Off in French Guiana

Jul 17, 2017

After ten weeks, the workers at the André-Rosemond hospital in Cayenne won their strike.

During the general strike in French Guiana, they were also on strike, but they continued the strike after the other strikers went back to work because their demands were not sufficiently met. They were financially supported by the main union in the country, the UTG (Union of Workers of Guiana), against an absolutely untenable situation. The hospital was so short of material and workers that it was not functional.

On June 6, French President Macron sent a group of Human Resources experts to Cayenne. Negotiations started soon after, and on June 9, the strikers signed a deal to end the conflict with the regional health agency and the emissaries of the government. The strikers won the hiring of 110 new workers. They also got 400 temp workers made permanent, at the rate of 75 per year starting now. The strikers gained 200 new workers immediately, after management had proposed adding just 36!

The agreement also included the creation of a hospital at Saint-Georges de l’Oyapock, a town on the border with Brazil, and another at Maripasoula in the Haut-Maroni, at the border with Surinam, and the advance of a project to create a major university hospital in Cayenne. The 20 million euros promised in total by the agreement at the end of the general strike were immediately disbursed.

The long struggle of the hospital workers has certainly paid off. It must be said that in the days before the agreement, a demonstration in support of the strikers took place in the streets of Cayenne. On June 6, demonstrators blocked the tax center in Cayenne. Many were arrested by the police and held for six hours. At the time, the UTG threatened the authorities with the call for a new general strike.

The tenacity of the hospital workers inspired the solidarity growing in the population. The threat of a new social explosion scared the government into realizing that it had to give in, and fast! This is the only language that these type of people understand.