Fight against repression of trade unions will bring democracy to life says France’s CGT

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CGT banner leads a march – discrimination and repression of trade unions is a strategy of companies and the government says the union

FIGHTING against the repression of trade unions is bringing democracy to life, says the CGT French trade union federation.

Ikéa lawsuits, dismissals, legal attacks against mobilised employees, new repressive laws …
Freedom of association, more than ever necessary, is under attack in many ways. the CGT warns.
The trial of the surveillance system set up by top executives at Ikéa France to spy on their employees recently shone the spotlight on union repression.
Indeed, trade unionists were the first targets. The prosecutor requested three years in prison against the former CEO and the former head of security, as well as a 2 million euro fine for the French industry.
She called for an ‘exemplary condemnation’ that sends a ‘strong message’ to companies.
MSA, RATP, Monoprix … Attacks against mobilised employees are increasing.
In various sectors of activity, trade unionists are dismissed.
When it comes to protected employees, even if the labour inspectorate refuses a dismissal visibly linked to the exercise of trade union activity, the company appeals until it succeeds.
Employers’ animosity towards employee representatives can also take the more insidious form of discrimination.
Put away, prevent a career development …
These unjust and illegal acts have a serious impact on the person concerned and are also harmful for trade unionism.
In effect, this amounts to sending the following message to other employees: ‘If you unionise, you will have daily problems and deteriorated working conditions.’
The CGT has developed indicators to check daily if employees are not discriminated against. But employers refuse to put them in place.
‘Trade union discrimination and repression are not the act of a few isolated individuals, they are indeed strategies put in place by the employers, especially in large companies, and by the government,’ comments the CGT’s Céline Verzeletti.
Indeed, when employees go out into the streets to make their demands heard, they are increasingly subject to repression, aggravated by decrees which further extend the possibilities of activists’ registration or by the draft comprehensive security law.
‘Today, even if you do nothing, if there is a suspicion that you could participate in a violent gathering, that is enough,’ denounces Céline Verzeletti.
Article 24 of the bill aims to penalise any photograph of the police which would be judged ‘and take note; malicious’.
A protester can be arrested on this ground, serving up to 48 hours in police custody. Even if we later realise that he is a peaceful activist, his arrest and police custody leave traces.
‘Hold a general assembly in our workplaces, reflect on demands: freedom of association is capital, we must fight to consolidate it … Democracy must not stop at the door of the company,’ concludes Céline Verzeletti.

  • The CGT has condemned the attacks suffered by the Solidaires trade union!

The headquarters of Solidaires, a trade union organisation which is committed alongside the CGT and other organisations against far-right ideas, was the subject of fascist grafitti and daubings last Thursday night (August 12).
This attack is inadmissible and condemnable.
It occurs in a context where far-right, conspiratorial ideas thrive in our society fuelled by the words and actions of the government in the management of the health crisis aimed at stigmatising and opposing citizens between them.
The CGT fully supports Solidaires and will continue to work to defend freedom of expression, respect for differences and for a real democratic debate in the country.

  • There is a need for a general plan for youth, demanded Force Ouvriere (FO) union federation last Wednesday 18 August.

The FO re-issued Activist Info files first posted on Friday, February 26, 2021 by  Valérie Forgeront, L’Info Militante.
Faced with the health, economic and social crisis which has lasted for a year and which is putting students, young workers, those looking for work, internship or even apprenticeship contracts in great difficulty, the government is occasionally adding new measures in the plan presented last July (2020), entitled ‘1 young person, 1 solution’.
Aimed at 16-25 year olds, it displays its ‘priorities’, ‘facilitates entry into professional life, provides guidance and training’, and ‘supports’ those ‘away from employment by building tailor-made integration pathways’.
The whole, integrated into the recovery plan, may appear massive and involving substantial budgetary resources …
Not so simple. Many young people are still without a solution, and, without resources, they encounter problems in finding accommodation, sometimes even in feeding themselves.
FO, which regrets a public policy carried out in fits and starts, asks for a general plan for young people.
The FO further noted:
Jobs, internships … weighed down by the crisis
Young people are the first economic victims of the health crisis.
Among 18-25 year olds, in mainland France, the number of job seekers without any activity (category A) jumped by 8.9% in 2020 (8.1% for this category, excluding the notion of age), according to the latest figures from Pôle emploi.
This increase hits men (+ 11%) more than women (+ 6.4%). In Paris, youth unemployment has literally exploded: + 32% in the capital in one year and + 25% in Île-de-France, according to the Observatory of the Parisian economy.
At the national level, taking into account those who have had a reduced activity (categories A, B and C), the increase in the unemployment rate among young people is 7.1% in metropolitan France (6.4% for these three categories, excluding the notion of age).
However, there was an improvement in the last quarter of 2020, with a 5.2% drop in youth unemployment in category A and 3.1% for categories A, B and C.
In an attempt to limit damage, the government launched in July 2020 the ‘1 young person, 1 solution’ plan, intended for those under 26.
Despite the health crisis, it made 2020 a record year for apprenticeship, with 495,000 contracts signed in companies (+ 40 % over one year). This plan also enabled 600,000 young people in difficulty to enter a path of integration into employment in 2020.
One-in-five students could not pass their year
The Minister of Labour also welcomed the recruitment of 1.2 million more young people on fixed-term contracts – for three months or on a permanent contract between August and December 2020, almost as much as in 2018 and 2019.
The fact remains that many young graduates did not find a job in 2020, which puts them at risk of poverty.
In recent weeks, those who were scholarship holders in 2019-2020 can receive 70% of the amount of their old scholarship, plus 100 euros for a period of four months if they do not live with their parents.
Those under 30 are concerned, graduating in 2020 or 2021 with a minimum bac +2. But this aid remains exceptional.
Many students, deprived of odd jobs, come up against precariousness.
The government has launched the recruitment of 20,000 tutors in universities in 2021, for four-month assignments.
These experienced students, responsible for supporting first-year students, will be paid by the university, on the basis of the minimum wage, for a few hours of work per week. It is also a way to fight against isolation.
Another dramatic consequence of the health crisis for students is the shortage of internships.
One in five students could not validate their 2019-2020 academic year for lack of an internship, according to an Opinionway survey in July 2020.