Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unions Wavering?

So far the CFDT has maintained its solidarity with the CGT, accepting two more "days of mobilization" over the coming weeks. But there are signs that the coalition is fraying. In addition to the indications mentioned in the Times piece, I would also point to the interview on France2 last night with the head of the oil and chemical workers union. When asked why blockages had been ended at several refineries and storage facilities, he wanted to put across the idea that this was a "democratic decision" by les gars, who had chosen to move the vanguard of the "social movement" elsewhere. But he looked for all the world like an apparatchik sent out unprepared to explain to the masses the latest twist in the party line.

Les gars at the refineries that remain closed may not know it yet, but their union is about to capitulate. Drivers have had it with the gas shortages, and the government has shown that it will use force to end them. Polls show that public support for the blockages has rapidly waned. The "social movement" is about to go behind closed doors to rethink its strategy. After all, the refinery workers are only a small part of the CFDT, and all those public sector employees who swell the rank-and-file of the same union need their cars to get to work, or even to drive to the next protest demonstration. The contradictions of capitalism.

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