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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Croiser les points de vue politiques et syndicaux"

by Sébastien Crépel

"Between Parties and Unions, a Permanent Exchange of Views Is Essential"

Gérard Aschieri, leader of the Education, Research, and Cuture Federation, explains why he accepts the Left Front’s invitation to a forum on the political alternative

Translated Friday 3 July 2009, by Isabelle Métral

The debate will take place in the Richelieu room of the Paris Mutualité starting at 6 pm, on Friday, July 4th. Other guests are expected besides Gérard Aschieri - a distinguished panel of union and association leaders and other prominent figures of the ongoing social debate. They will be exchanging views in order to work out together the alternative left’s proposals to address the crisis.

The meeting was proposed by the Left Front, composed of the French Communist Party, the new Party of the Left, the Unitary Left (a splinter group from Besancenot’s New Anticapitalist Party) and other political groups. This initiative comes as a result of the Front’s ambition, following the European election campaign, to carry on a debate with the Left’s electors and all those engaged in conflicts, so as to elaborate a full political project with a view to rallying a majority of voters against the right’s policies.

Gérard Aschieri, the FSU leader, is one of those trade union leaders who have promised to come, together with Maryse Dumas (for the CGT, the General Confederation of Trades), or Annick Coupé (for Solidaires-Sud, a radical federation). In Gérard Aschieri’s view, his participation is quite in conformity with the FSU’s democratic tradition: “It is customary for us to debate with political parties: there is no reason why we should turn the invitation down. We simply want to inform the parties that invite us of our organization’s views on the construction of an economic and social alternative.” According to him, this alternative is no single group’s exclusive responsibility, so there is a need for an exchange of views between parties, unions and associations, each within the limits of their respective roles.

Gérard Aschieri thinks this exchange should be permanent: “Generally speaking, and outside the electoral periods, such an exchange is useful provided each contributor’s specificity is respected.” Asked about the state of the left after the European election, he says that it has clearly not succeeded in persuading the electorate, especially electors who were engaged in conflicts, that their vote might be useful to change policies and influence the choices of Nicolas Sarkozy and his government.”

But he also thinks politicians are not the only ones to have failed. And he draws a parallel with the failure of the mobilization called by the Confederations on June 13. To him, the failure of the mobilization “shows that the unions’ initiatives are suspect, for want of political perspective in favour of real transformation.”

The union leader expects that the meeting will foster "dialogue and full consideration of the unions’ views: those that want to build a political alternative need to hear the organizations engaged in the social movements and especially the workers’ representative organizations."

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