[Marxism] Guadeloupe General Strike update Weds. Evening, March 4

nada dwaltersMIA at gmail.com
Wed Mar 4 20:50:00 MST 2009

To the Endorsers of the Sign-On Letter in Support of the Workers and 
People of Guadeloupe

Dear All,

It's Wednesday evening here in San Francisco.

The press in Guadeloupe and France announced this morning that a final 
agreement should have been signed today that granted the workers and 
people of Guadeloupe the overwhelming majority of the demands for which 
they have staged a nationwide general strike since January 20. As of 
this writing, I have not heard from folks in Guadeloupe to find out if 
this is what occurred.

As you know, a tentative agreement was reached late last week. In the 
wee hours of Friday morning, after the tentative agreement was 
announced, there was great joy and celebration in the streets of 
Guadeloupe.  But over the weekend the French authorities, through the 
French-appointed Prefect, or Governor, and the main employers' 
association, the MEDEF, went to the media to announce that an agreement 
had been reached and that everyone should go back to work on Monday.

This outraged the LKP Strike Collective and the workers and people of 
Guadeloupe. No agreement had been signed. And it was up to the Black 
majority on the island, organized in their own LKP Strike Collective, 
the only recognized leadership of the mass movement, to announce whether 
the strike was to end or whether it was to continue. It was not up to 
the Beké, the white ruling elite on the island, and its colonial 
paymasters in France to speak on behalf of the strikers -- especially 
when they had not signed an agreement.

The people felt that the government and the employers were trying to 
pull a fast one; that is, end the strike without signing a binding 
agreement. And there was additional reason for resentment and distrust: 
Two weeks earlier, the French Minister of Overseas Departments and 
Territories, Yves Jégo, had announced during his trip to Guadeloupe, 
where he had joined the negotiating team, that he supported the LKP 
Strike Collective's demand for a 200 euro wage increase. But no sooner 
had he made this declaration than he was disavowed by French Prime 
Minster Francois Fillon and ordered back to Paris. This dashed the 
people's hope that the strike would come to an end, with a victory for 
the workers.

On Monday, March 2, the LKP Strike Collective disclosed the tentative 
agreement: All the main demands of the strikers had been won. 
Negotiations were to resume late Monday morning with the Prefect, the 
MEDEF, and the Small Business Employers' Association to finalize and 
sign the agreement.

But there was now a hitch: The MEDEF employers' association now reneged 
on the part of the agreement involving the 200 euro increase in the 
minimum wage. According to the agreement, the French government would 
pay 100 euros per worker (out of the 200 euro increase) for a period of 
three years by releasing the employers from paying into pension and 
healthcare funds for the workforce -- but after three years, that extra 
charge would have to be paid once again by the employers organized in 
the MEDEF. Now the MEDEF was demanding that the French government assume 
that 100 euro charge indefinitely.

This sent things back to Paris. For the past three days, heated and 
angry debates, negotiations and mobilizations have been the order of the 
day in Guadeloupe.

I hope to get a report first thing tomorrow morning from Guadeloupe. I 
will keep you posted as soon as I hear something.

Thanks again for your interest and support,

In solidarity,

Alan Benjamin

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