The Spark

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

Renault:
Let It Snow

Feb 19, 2018

This article is from the Feb. 16th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

On February 6, the Paris region was hit by a big snow fall. The local government warned that it would be a good idea for offices and work places to clear out early in order to help workers get home and reduce traffic problems. But the nearby Renault car factory bosses wanted to wait until the last moment to decide about the afternoon shift.

All the roads in the area around the plant were covered in snow and ice. But management was only concerned for production, whatever the cost.

At the plant, workers’ anger was growing. The bosses were pressuring workers not to leave the line, fearing if a small group of workers left, it would be like a snowball rolling through all the workshops. A break in the equipment that provides the supplies finally got management to decide to stop the line. Quickly the workers stood in front of the bosses, and then went out the doors.

For two more days the snow and ice were still there, and it was better to just stay home than to risk traveling to work. Of course the bosses put out reassuring messages, saying that the snow would stop on Friday by 1 p.m. But it was still snowing at that point and the roads around the factory were impassable for miles.

The bosses still tried to get in about 50 workers from the Press and Assembly Line areas to move work toward the edge of the assembly line. But this is work normally done by trucks, so the group of workers decided to walk out all together.

It wasn’t the snow that caused a cold wall between workers and bosses but rather the bosses’ desire to have production at any cost, even if workers had to risk their lives to do it.