The Spark

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

France:
Peugeot Strike in its Ninth Week

Mar 18, 2013

The following is from the March 15th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

The strike is still going on at the PSA (Peugeot) factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois. On March 13th, it began its ninth week. The Peugeot family continues to play for time, although work stoppages have cost them 20,000 cars. Management fears giving in to the strikers, since that would encourage their combativeness.

The government, as always, shows how it is allied with the bosses. On March 6th, the strikers went to question the labor minister, demanding the mediator that French President Hollande had promised – and which is an elementary right under labor law.

The labor minister’s office flatly stated that it was out of the question. The minister said he didn’t want to bother PSA’s management.

A mediator won’t support the demands of the striking workers. But naming one would force PSA to say publicly that it refuses to negotiate. Some strikers renamed the labor minister the “Peugeot Minister.”

Strikers Invite Themselves into the Holy of Holies

On March 8th, the striking workers besieged the headquarters of UIMM, the industrial association of metal working companies. The head of UIMM is the trusted agent of the Peugeot family. The workers let him know the strike is very much alive. The strikers appreciated the luxury of the UIMM offices and the thickness of the restroom carpet. In a hall where bosses usually decide on which layoffs and sacrifices they want to impose, the strikers held their general assembly.

Even when the police came to kick them out, they left proudly, frustrating the police and security details that continually follow the strikers around.

No Penalty Succeeds in Breaking the Strike

The strike goes on, in support of those who have been more directly attacked. Two of them are fighting their firing – confronting Peugeot at a labor board hearing.

At the beginning of the week, management fired three militants. One of them is accused of “sound aggression” because of a drum he played in the factory. Another was fired for throwing eggs.

Management’s attacks against the strikers are more and more pathetic. It proves how just the fight is.

The Struggle, School of the Working Class

For over eight weeks, the striking workers have shown organization and determination that reinforces not only them but all workers. By showing that they can take their fate into their own hands, by deciding on their struggle, and not accepting the bosses’ blackmail, they continue to show the way forward for others. An indispensable consciousness has been increasing among workers: consciousness of true adversaries and false friends, consciousness of the support on which they can truly count (tens of thousands of workers who continue to give money to the strike fund) and those who prove to be shaky.

For all the lessons learned, the strike has been enormously beneficial. But above all, it continues to show that the workers can refuse to let themselves be tossed out with nothing. They can make themselves respected, win the support of an important fraction of the working class and disturb the bosses and the politicians when they are attacking the working class.