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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les postiers appellent à la grève le 23 septembre

by Fanny Doumayrou

French postal workers issue strike call for September 23

Translated Sunday 7 September 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

Mobilization. The six trade union federations are organizing a joint day of action against the planned privatization of the postal service.

“Every striker will count,” Colette Duynslager, the general secretary of the postal activities CGT union, announced on September 2 at the seat of the CGT in Montreuil, while reading the joint declaration of the six trade union federations that represent French postal workers. The federations have agreed on a call for a “national one-day strike and demonstration” on September 23 to oppose the planned privatization of the postal service. Last week, Jean-Paul Bailly, the president of the public sector company, confirmed his plan to convert the postal service into a private corporation on January 1, 2010, with the sale of shares a year later. “This official announcement has confirmed the government’s intention to privatize the postal service and to ride roughshod over all opposition,” the joint declaration of the six union federations says. For the unions, “this year’s” mobilization of postal workers, customers and local elected officials has demonstrated attachment to the public postal service and to guarantees for postal personnel. The union federations “are reiterating their demand for a public debate.” They intend to circulate a petition among customers to back up the postal strike, and to address themselves “to all the elected officials and political parties” in view of obtaining their backing. The union federations have opted for decentralized demonstrations on September 23 so as to bring out as many protesters as possible.

Jean-Paul Bailly rejected the expression “privatization” during his announcement, arguing that the law guarantees the postal service’s public service mission, and that the government will maintain a stake of over 50 percent. “They put forward the same guarantees for France Télécom [the national telephone company], and we saw what happened afterwards,” Daniel Rodriguez stated on behalf of the CFTC trade union. “Today, the government has a minority stake in France Télécom, thousands of jobs have been axed, the services offered have declined and fees have gone up. Opening a public company’s capital [to private investment] inevitably leads to its concentrating on its most profitable activities.”

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