French car workers defy plant closure

Submitted by Matthew on 26 October, 2012 - 7:40

The announcement by the PSA group (Peugeot Citroën) of their decision to close the Aulnay-Sous-Bois factory was officially made in July.

But since June 2011, with the exposure of a secret document [about the closure], activists in the factory had been preparing the struggle against the closure.

On 12 July, a general assembly brought together 800 workers; daily meetings followed. The experience of strikes in 2005 and 2007 pointed the way, in the following week, for a committee for preparation of the struggle to be created. Around 160 delegates were elected across all sectors: trade union reps, rank-and-file union members and many non-union workers.

The “house” union, SIA, had up until that point joined in action with the CGT [France’s biggest union confederation], but this time refused to join the committee, apart from delegates from Ferrage.

On 25 July the unions of the PSA group unanimously refused to make any declaration regarding the redundancy plans; this blocks the whole procedure for the time being and gives time to organise a response.

In July, Hollande like Montebourg [government Minister of Industrial Renewal] had feigned indignation against PSA. After the summer [the government changed tack].

On 11 September, the expert nominated by the government, Mr Emmanuel Sartorius, gave the green light to PSA in their decision to close the factory.

The bosses have recruited extra security, some of whom have on their CV… fighting in Chechnya! They have also brought over staff from other sites on certain days to “protect industrial tools at Aulnay”!

The press focussed on the “social return” [demonstration] on 4 September at Aulnay, but several days were needed to relaunch the mobilisation, to which end meetings of the struggle preparation committee took place.

On 11 September, the day of the hand-in of the government expert’s report, general assemblies of two teams in the morning and the afternoon, plus a rally at shift change, brought together around 800 workers. Decisions were: opening the toll booths at Senlis [i.e. organising free entry], demanding a meeting with Hollande, and a demonstration at the complex in Aulnay on 29 September, with participation from Sanofi, Air France, and all the enterprises confronted with the redundancy plans.

The action at the Senlis toll booth on the A1 road brought sympathy and money from motorists and lorry drivers!

On 20 September, 400 Aulnay workers met with Hollande, without many illusions, given the surprise smack of the Sartorius report, but nevertheless with some hopes.

In fact the response must be organised in a different direction: joining up struggles on all PSA sites, and more broadly, all sectors. That process was begun at the 29 September meeting, as workers from Roissy, Carrefour, Ikea, Magneto and Sanofi were present as well as Ford workers from Bordeaux.

Preventing job losses can only be imposed by struggling together. Workers from threatened workplaces must meet to develop co-ordination.

The day of action and the demonstrations of 9 October will give us the opportunity to do this.

• From Convergences Révolutionnaires, the magazine of L’Etincelle, a faction within France’s New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA)

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