The Spark

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

Martinique:
A Month on Strike, Then Negotiations ... under the Strikers’ Control!

Mar 9, 2009

The strike in Martinique (an island in the Caribbean with 400,000 people) begun in early February, is continuing; the barricades in the commercial zones are still up. On March 2, more than 3,000 demonstrators and strikers rallied in the courtyard of the House of Unions in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

There were reports on the radio that the strikers’ Collective had reached an agreement on March 1. The president of the Collective declared that an agreement could be signed based on proposals made by the bosses, the towns and the State. But the Collective still wanted to put in writing the 50 euros agreement to be included in negotiations to take place in July or September. The actual wage demand of the Collective is a raise of 250 euros ($312) per month for the lowest paid workers.

The bosses, furious to see people aren’t content with their “generosity,” suspended the session. The politicians agreed with the bosses, going so far as to say that they wouldn’t return to the negotiations, because they had already made a big enough effort.

The day before these negotiations, the movement already seemed to be reinforced. Despite shady “goings-on” reported on television and radio, strikers weren’t discouraged. Facing a human sea of supporters, the Collective quickly presented the real situation to the assembled strikers. There was discussion about negotiations concerning the price of basic necessities, including water, housing, public transport, but also on all the points which still need to be dealt with, including the raise of 200 euros, plus a 50 euro supplement to be awarded before the next negotiations in July or September 2009.

All questions were put as proposals to the demonstrators present. There was a unanimous response of “yes” and all these explanations were strongly applauded.

That reinforced the mobilization. By the time they began to move through the streets of Fort-de-France with members of the Collective at the head, there were 10,000 people.

Afterwards, members of the Collective left the march with a new road map in their pockets, to present at the negotiations.

The strike continues with determination. It intends to win the maximum possible in wages, with a social minimum, pensions and the lowering of prices of basic necessities and services.