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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Chez Airbus, la « base » tient à sa grève

by Thomas Lemahieu

At Airbus, the Rank and File is Committed to Continuing the Strike

Translated Friday 11 May 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

Aeronautic industry. In Saint-Nazaire, the biggest trade unions called for a resumption of work, but, as in Nantes, the workers voted to continue the strike until Wednesday.

The workers rocked the boat in Saint Nazaire in the French département of Loire-Atlantique — yesterday morning (May 4) the biggest trade unions (FO, CFTC and CGC) at the city’s two Airbus factories called on the strikers to end their industrial action.

The mobilization broadens

Astonishment in both the workers’ inter-trade union committee and at the CGT trade union — a few minutes earlier, at a preparatory meeting for the general assembly, the representatives of the main trade unions had not even deigned to inform them of their intentions ... With, in hand, a proposal made Thursday in Toulouse by the general management of the airplane manufacturer – an exeptional 500-euro bonus – Yvonnick Dréno, the secretary of the FO trade union, explained – to general surprise – to the workers that management “would not resume discussions so long as the situation is not serene in the factories in western France.” “The advances which were obtained Thursday in Toulouse do not represent the opening of negotiations,” he promised, before hundreds of strikers who were already considerably angry with the FO-CFTC-CGC entente.
Vote to continue the industrial action.

The rank-and-file, who have been on a spontaneous strike for a week, and which had, in the preceding days, succeeded in establishing a semblance of a common trade union front around their platform of demands (bonuses of between 3000 and 4000 euros, equivalent to the bonuses of 2006, withdrawal of the "Power 8" (1) downsizing plan, no lay-offs and permanent job contracts for temporary workers) voted by a substantial majority to continue their industrial action until next Wednesday (May 9). “We are waiting for a strong signal from management,” declared Yvonnick Guihéneuf, the spokesman for the workers inter-trade union committee. “The first results of yesterday’s negotiations are not a strong sign, compared with our set of demands.” Than he asked the strikers: “Does the management offer satisfy you?” The answer of the crowd, unhesitatingly and as one man: “No!” Christian Caillé, a CGT shop steward, confirmed his union’s support for the strikers: “We in the CGT are the only ones to continue accompanying this industrial action ... In a certain way, that’s deplorable, but it will also permit us to speak more freely, and no longer to feel that we are bound hand and foot for fear of breaking the trade union united front. For the moment, this has reinforced even more the workers’ determination: We are sticking to a all-out, tough strike until Wednesday. There isn’t even any talk of a rolling strike any more, this is an all-out strike...”

In Nantes, after a heavy day on Thursday, the tension among the workers declined a bit on Friday and the strikers met together to strengthen their strike movement and to maintain it until Wednesday, the date of the next general assembly. Here again, a crushing majority, despite the pressure exercised by some union bosses who did not hesitate to phone the workers at home on Thursday evening to incite them to resume work, “now that negotiations have begun in Toulouse” ... Friday morning, in Nantes, unlike the situation in Saint Nazaire, the FO, the CFTC and the CGC, while remaining very much in the background, did not withdraw their support for the industrial action.

Translator’s note:
"Power 8" is a programme management imposed tomake the entire Airbus chain competitive.

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