ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les syndicats ripostent contre l’extrême droite
by Grégory Marin
Translated Sunday 2 February 2014, by
Faced with the National Front’s pretensions to preempting the worker vote, on Jan. 29 trade unions and youth organizations are exchanging thoughts and experiences on how to counter the ideas of the far right.
On Dec. 4, when the campaign “against the far right, its ideas, and its practices” was launched, the CGT, FSU and Solidaires trade union confederations and the UNEF, FIDL and UNL student organizations reaffirmed the role of trade unions and youth organizations in the struggle for democracy. Born of the urgent need to deconstruct the anti-social proposals of the National Front and its satellite organizations, the inter-trade union unity day, to be held on Jan. 29, is taking a resolutely combative direction.
The concern is not new. In early 2011, a joint leaflet by the above three trade union confederations, with in addition the UNSA and CFDT confederations (which are not participating in the Jan. 29 gathering) condemned “the use of the social situation for the promotion in public discussion of certain theories, as the National Front is doing.”
The role of the trade unions, “with regard to their history, their traditions, and their values” and also “in their practice,” is to work for social progress. The statutes of the confederations that are organizing the Jan. 29 gathering are incompatible with “the theory of national preference (which) contradicts the fundamental values of trade-unionism.” The CGT has written this into its statutes – the CGT acts “for a democratic society, freed of capitalist exploitation and other forms of exploitation and domination, and against discrimination of all kinds: racism, xenophobia and all forms of exclusion.”
In his introductory report to the national council of the CGT federation of public service unions, last September, federal secretary Baptiste Talbot went further. According to him, trade union work “to improve the balance of power and change the situation regarding trade union demands” is “an integral part of the anti-fascist struggle.”
Trade unionists working at a number of private and public-sector companies are confronted with the confusion of some of their co-workers, who think the solution is to vote for the National Front. The leaders of several trade unions have already stated that the creation of the conditions for a “policy of social progress” is what will push back the far right. For Baptiste Talbot, this is a no-brainer: “Our conception of the world is structured by class divisions, and in the class struggle on the ground, the National Front is on the side of the enemy.” The proof, based on examples, will be furnished at the Jan. 29 meeting.
The Program of the Day of Reflection
From 10 a.m. on, there will be workshops, at the Bourse du travail building in Paris, on the struggle against the “fake pro-labor position” of the National Front and the far right. After an overview of the “laboratory cities,” the trade unions will deconstruct the far right’s positions on “the rights of women and homosexuals and pro-family proposals,” on “immigration, racism and the national preference,” and on “the struggles of the peoples in Europe against unemployment and precarious employment.”
In the afternoon, a discussion workshop led by the “Vigilance and anti-fascist trade union initiatives” collective will examine how trade union activists, who are confronted with these situations on the job on a daily basis, can react.
The day will end with a meeting of representatives of the trade union confederations (the CGT, FSU, and Solidaires) and of representatives of the youth organizations (UNEF, FIDL, and UNL) at the seat of the CGT in Montreuil at 7:30 p.m.