The Spark

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

Guadeloupe:
Workers Confront Bosses' Maneuvers

May 18, 2009

The following is from an article in the April 25 issue of Combat Ouvrier (Workers' Fight), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in the recent general strike on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean. For more information on the strike, read the May-June, 2009 issue of Class Struggle #62.

Thanks to the pressure of the workers, numerous businesses in Guadeloupe had to provide the agreed-upon raise – 200 Euros a month, a raise of about $270. When the strike ended in February, about 17,000 workers were due to gain the raise. But today, thanks to strikers' efforts, some 50,000 workers have gained the raise. Another 30,000 workers will have to fight to get this raise from their bosses.

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Every day the bosses' flunkeys sing their eternal song on the air waves – claiming that the general strike killed the local economy, or that strikes kill tourism, etc. These mouthpieces for the bosses blame the workers and make the unions responsible for what they call a disaster.

The bosses and the békés (very rich descendants of the former slave owners) lead a daily and pitiless class war against the workers. It's not just the 200 Euros, which most of them can pay very well.

What's at stake is whether they can make workers bow down, whether they can smother the social struggles using many kinds of pressure and threats. The workers, in fact, came out with their heads held high, proud of their 44-day general strike. Others were encouraged by the general strike to begin many new strikes in various parts of the islands.

This is what really disturbs the bosses. They want to set traps everywhere on this road of dignity, regained by workers' fights in this period.

But the general strike created a shock wave favorable to continued strikes, demanding that the Bino agreement be applied in its entirety. And even if the strikes are sometimes cut short, the workers know that it is only to gain a little time, in order later to resume the fights. The majority of the 30,000 workers still not covered by the agreement won't accept a "legal" social injustice – that is, with some getting the 200 Euros and some not.

The current state of mind directly came from the general strike. Workers understand they must fight against the bosses until they give in on the 200 Euros and on many other demands. Workers don't intend to accept any stupidity from the békés or other arrogant, vengeful bosses, trying to weigh them down or threatening to hold them back.