The Spark

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

Guadeloupe:
Anger Mounts

Nov 22, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Roadblocks went up at a number of places around Guadeloupe on Monday, November 15th. This was the day that suspensions went into effect for healthcare workers who refused vaccination. Several hundred were subject to suspension.

The actions were called by a coalition of unions and political organizations during a press conference on Friday, November 12th. What the press has been calling the LKP [the coalition that organized the general strike on the island in 2009] is in fact a coalition of nearly thirty unions and political organizations, including the UGTG, FO, CGTG, FSU and Combat Ouvrier. They have demonstrated since mid-July against the August 5th law mandating vaccines and levying heavy sanctions against workers. A section of firefighters, also subject to the August 5th law, joined the mobilization early on. The organizations called for an ongoing general strike, starting on November 15th.

Saturday, November 13th, 2,000 demonstrated and blocked roundabouts at Perrin aux Abymes and the last roundabout before the entrance to the airport.

A section of healthcare workers is on strike at twenty hospitals and establishments. The most important pickets are at the teaching hospital at Pointe-à-Pitre-Abymes and the hospital at Basse-Terre.

One hundred workers at the most important hotels on the island elected a struggle committee and are prepared to go on strike if the vaccination mandate is applied to them. They declared themselves in solidarity with the healthcare workers on strike. They also called for salary increases to deal with the hikes in prices. Workers at ArcelorMittal have been on strike for two months against a scornful boss they can no longer stand. Gas station workers at some stations struck November 15th. They demand that their labor rights be respected as well as an end to sanctions against the healthcare workers.

The student unions, particularly the FSU, called a strike for Tuesday, November 16th and a rally in front of the school administration. They are protesting the threats of suspension levied against some categories of workers: psychologists, nurses and teaching assistants.

For the moment, the strike only touches those sectors. The roadblocks put up by the different unions and the confrontations between workers and police there have been the highest points. At Morne-à-l’Eau, firefighters at a roadblock turned their firehoses on the police when they intervened. At the picket at the Espérance aux Abymes clinic, the police intervened brutally. The CGTG union delegate and a UGTG militant were violently arrested and handcuffed, then taken to the police station. Soon, several hundred striking workers and militants demonstrated in front of the headquarters at Pointe-à-Pitre–Abymes. The two arrested militants were released after 17 hours; they must appear in April to face charges of rebellion.

Very early in the morning of Tuesday, November 16th, new barricades went up in many places, notably Gosier, in front of the casino on “hotel row”. The firefighters put up their roadblock once again at the Perrin aux Abymes roundabout. Other roadblocks went up elsewhere on the island, notably at Pointe-Noire. Union leaders called for a general strike and for roadblocks against the sanctions imposed by the August 5th law, and also against the vertiginous increases in prices of necessities and gasoline. Some called for salary increases, pensions and a social safety net. Others sought to bring the entire island to a halt, calling on all workers and the population to join in.

By threatening to take the jobs and salaries of workers who refuse vaccination, Macron and his government, loyal servants to capital, act like arsonists, provoking the justified anger of thousands of workers, both vaccinated and not.