The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Strike, Roadblocks, Mass Revolt

Dec 6, 2021

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

After a week of general strike and roadblocks in Martinique, the movement is not weakening. Negotiations which were to start on November 29 between the unions, the prefect, and the island’s other leaders remain at impasse.

The general strike began on November 15. It has grown since the call put out November 22nd by a coalition of unions and organizations of health workers and self-employed workers (fishermen, taxi drivers, etc.) A 13-point platform was drawn up opposing compulsory vaccination, condemning the lack of hospital resources and the high cost of living, and demanding massive job creation for young people. The demands also concern transportation, fishing, and culture.

But the demands of the strikers and ordinary people remain unanswered. The prefect’s disrespect for the workers’ delegation caused anger to mount. The strike was renewed. Many roads were blocked. Some roadblocks are organized around activists from the coalition. Others are staffed by young people from low-income neighborhoods, mainly at night.

But in reality, if some workers are on strike—including health care and social security workers who were on strike even before the movement started—the work stoppage is far from general. Activists took the lead in the mobilization, blocking the roads. Then very quickly, young people and ordinary people joined in. The movement is more of a social revolt among the poor than a real general strike. Every evening, young people build barricades with trash and burn cars. Facing police, some shoot live ammunition.

The anger of these young people so frightened the authorities that the prefect felt obliged to invite some of them to a meeting on November 26. Most of these young people are underemployed at best. Burning vehicles and businesses, looting, and other abuses are the expression of their rage against a society that offers them nothing. Many fall into delinquency. These young people are also fed up with the government’s contempt. Faced with their anger, the government has no other answer than to send police forces to suppress them.

But the young people of these neighborhoods have every interest in joining the workers in the fight against the vaccine mandate and the high cost of living. They have the same interests. We must demand increases in wages, pensions, and public benefits, as well as massive hiring, especially of young people. Alongside the workers, the youth could be a considerable force to back down big business and the government which serves it.