On the eve of a demonstration planned by the CGT for Friday, December 14, activists called for the CGT leadership to actively support the “Yellow Vests” movement. On December 6, the CGT had issued an official statement denouncing the movement as violent. Although on the 14th, the CGT called for a mobilization, activists around France are pushing for more active solidarity and strike action. Some prominent trade union activists have signed the petition, including Xavier Mathieu, Thierry Dufresne, Reynald Kubecki and Ghislaine Tormos.
We reproduce here a translation of the statement, originally published in French in Libération.
“The CGT (Central Confederation of Workers) cannot turn a blind eye to the social unrest.”
A mood of struggle reigns all over the country—rage against the high cost of living, against the injustice of fiscal policy and against President Macron—and the Yellow Vests movement is at its core. We had some reservations about the movement at first (over its program and limitations, since its initial demand was limited to calls against the increase in fuel taxes, and because of its relationship with the far right), there can no longer be doubt that this is a people’s movement and grows from a general discontent that far exceeds the strict bounds of the issue of fuels taxes, and it has nothing to do with the far-right even if it [the far right] would love to be able to gain control over the movement.
Among the Yellow Vests are our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors. Often, they are precarious workers living outside the metropolitan areas, small businesspersons or unemployed, and are unable to make ends meet, the same as many of us. We haven’t managed to get those workers organized in our unions, and we have been unable to involve them in our everyday struggles or around our traditional slogans, and this should make us reflect.
Neither the CGT nor rank and file activists like us should turn a blind eye to this social unrest. We must face reality. The movement behind the roadblocks has already begun, but it should be expanded by putting in place our methods—the methods of strike—and our demands: an increase in the minimum wage, pensions and benefits, alongside the implementation of the wealth tax on bosses and the rich. Those resources should be used to develop a high standard of public service.
If there is some mistrust among the Yellow Vests towards the trade unions, some of them have started to realise that in order to stop the country’s economy and for Macron to retreat, roadblocks and demonstrations are not enough, and they are starting to demanding political support from organizations at the local level.
Our Confederation is at a crossroads. Either the CGT turns its back on this movement and the majority of workers in it, which will undoubtedly deepen the crisis of the trade union movement as we know it and will make it easy for the far right to channel the discontent of the lower working class, or it seeks to converge with other working-class sectors, to achieve the “Tous ensemble!” (“All together”) which has been part of our collective memory since the 1995 strike wave of strikes, in order for the workers movement to take leadership and change the balance of power [in favor of workers].
As some trade union branches have been doing, we must participate in the ongoing mobilisations and seek convergence between sectors of the working class, not only in speeches but in real organization. We need to stand alongside the Yellow Vests, taking into consideration the real dynamics of the movement rather than organising “a series of isolated initiatives” for a hypothetical “one-day strike at the beginning of 2019”, as proposed by the Confederal Committee [national leadership body] on November 26. This should be done not with the aim of negotiating on behalf of the Yellow Vests, but as a first step towards a change in the balance of power, and must be followed by a call for a first day of general national strike on December 14, with the understanding of an indefinite strike action as the only way to depose Macron.
Signataires : Christophe Ananou, DS CGT et RS au CSE, Mercedes-Benz Valenciennes, Gérard Barthélémy, section retraités de l’Union Locale CGT de Pessac, Pierre Batteux, CGT FAPT retraités 44, Jean Claude Baud, CGT Territoriaux du Havre, Kamel Bentoumi, membre du CE CGT PSA Caen, Aldo Berardo, militant CGT Sidel, Jean-Jacques Boué, retraité et ex-animateur formation professionnelle à la fédération CGT Mines-Energie, Sébastien Briou, DP et CHSCT CGT Randstad, Cédric Brun, secrétaire CGT PSA Valenciennes, Joy Boix, CGT Fonction publique hospitalière, Hôpital de Muret, Adrien Carfantan, militant CGT chômeurs rebelles à Lorient, Alain Chaussard, CE CGT retraités RATP, David Claves, CGT UFIT Enedis et élu CE, Florent Coste, secrétaire du syndicat CGT Latécoère et membre de la CE de l’UD31, Michel Couviaux, DS CGT Randstad, Thierry Defresne, DSC CGT Total raffinage pétrochimie, Antony Delsaux, secrétaire adjoint CGT PSA Valenciennes, Teddy Dewolf, DS CGT Randstad, Cédric Duva,l DS CGT Seita Imperial Tobacco, Vincent Duse, DS CGT PSA Mulhouse, Jérôme Fiche,t CGT Safran Nacelles à Gonfreville L’orcher, Patricia Gast, CGT Fonction publique hospitalière Hôpital de Muret, Olivier Goldfarb, élu CAP CGT FTDNEEA (Traitement Déchets Nettoiement) Paris 18ème, Frédéric Gonano, membre de la CE du SNASS-CGT, Gaëtan Gracia, RSS CGT Ateliers de la Haute-Garonne, Michel Gracia, CGT Tisséo Toulouse, Stéphane Hauguel, membre de la CFC de l’UL CGT du Havre, Jérôme Herrbach, CGT SAFRAN Landing Systems, Laurence Hervagault, élue CGT Hôpital Bicêtre, Mathias Jeanne, DS CGT CIM (Port pétrolier du Havre et antifer), Bernard Jusserand, CGT SNTRS Jussieu, Reynald Kubecki, DS CGT Sidel, Pascal Lacroûte, FNME CGT retraité des IEG Nièvre, Yohann Lacroûte CGT et membre CE Enedis DR Bourgogne, David Lagrèze, CGT Carrefour EuraLille, Maud Le Balch, membre du Bureau de l’UL Nord de Toulouse, Patrick Lebalc’h, CGT du Syndicat Havrais de l’Action Sociale, Claude Leclercq, secrétaire CGT UL Amiens ZI et CGT Auchan supermarché logistique, Robert Le Corre, retraité, FERC-CGT, Corinne Le Fustec, USPAOC CGT MJC Bretagne, Jean Yves Lesage, CGT Syndicat du livre, Jean-Pierre Lestuvee, DS CGT Randstad, Claude Mader, retraitée CGT FAPT et Commerce, Amélie Maréchal, Docapost CGT FAPT 31, Xavier Mathieu, comédien et ex porte-parole CGT des Conti, Yves Mestas, CGT retraité EDF/GDF et ex-responsable CGT EDF/GDF Bourgogne, Frédéric Montaron, retraité et ex-animateur régional UFICT-CGT Bourgogne, Catherine Morant, CGT Fonction publique hospitalière Hôpital de Muret, Fabrice Perdoux Capdeville, RSS CGT-FLB Institut Médico-Educatif La Sapinière, Eric Pereira Da Silva, militant CGT Tisséo Toulouse, Franck Piquot, CGT Territoriaux du Havre, Luc Quinton, plasticien et militant UFICT-CGT Isère, Eric Rodriguez, CGT Tisséo Toulouse, Frédéric Rollet, CA CGT GRDF Nevers, Yvon Rouillin, CGT FAPT retraité (17), David Roussin, CGT Enedis, Roland Ruiz, CHSCT CGT PSA Poissy, Anthony Sarriau, CGT EDF Tricastin, Frédéric Sauve, CGT Fonction publique hospitalière Hôpital de Muret, Patrick Schweizer, Retraité CGT Renault Billancourt, Franck Théry, Secrétaire CGT PSA SevelNord, Alain Thomas retraité CGT tram et bus métropole Bordeaux, Ghislaine Tormos, DP CGT PSA Poissy, Michael Wamen, CGT Goodyear, Laurent Waneukem, DS CGT Manpower Agence de Thionville (57), CGT Ferc-Sup et SNTRS Dauphine, Fabien Cros, Secrétaire CGT du Comité Central d’Entreprise Total La Mède, Armelle Dupuy, Syndicat CGT Départemental des Transports Gironde, Alain Maubrac, Secrétaire CGT retraités Transports Bordeaux Métropole, Evelyne Cervantes Descubes, CGT Transports Bordeaux Métropole, Bernard José, CGT retraités Transports Bordeaux Métropole.