Temp workers' strike at Citroen, France, 2007

Mouvement Communiste on a short wildcat strike of agency worker's in France in 2007.

Submitted by Steven. on January 11, 2010

Only few months ago the government was forced to take back it's CPE reform, after being confronted with a youth movement that was supported by the majority of the population. It is true that the CPE symbolised and seemed to bundle together the various attacks of the government and the employees, aiming at a total casualisation of the work-force. But by simply revoking the CPE the problem is everything but solved. For a growing number of workers casualisation is still very present.

PSA Aulnay
On the 15th of November 2006 during the early shift at Citroen Aulnay about fifty temporary workers laid down tools at the assembly line. Another fifty workers joined their action during the afternoon. The strike lasted for two days. It is the first strike of precarious workers in the history of the plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois.

Over the last twenty years there have been a lot of situations where precarious workers questioned the legal status of their work contracts and the company had to pay generous compensations for dozens of dismissed temp workers, but there had never been a strike. Currently Citroen sends people on short-time work, on obligatory holidays in order to adjust the production to the car sales volume. Since the first week of November there have been four involuntary days off. For the moment Citroen subtracts these days from the working time accounts of the permanent workers which have been implemented after the introduction of the 35-hours week.

As a consequence, the Citroen workers in the production department owe the company between 80 and 90 hours, which they will have to make up for once Citroen needs them. (We will see!). For the temp workers the situation is simpler: they don't get any money at all. Their wages are ridiculous anyway, and on top of that a 200 Euros cut, which was the last straw. Finally the strike kicked off. Surely, with only one hundred out of six hundred temp workers taking part it was a struggle of a minority, but of a determined minority. Right away the Citroen management threatened with the termination of the temp contracts in order to mobilise the temp agencies to put pressure on the strikers, but confronted with the threat of the strike the management gave in: the four days will be paid. The measure is presented as an advance payment reduced from the compensation which all temps would get for the lost days at the end of the contract, but in the end the temps will receive the full pay. The workmates went back to work, proud and happy about the fact that they managed to force Citroen to their knees. They exchanged addresses and telephone numbers in case that Citroen wants to take revenge once the contract is about to run out.

Renault Flins
Currently there are about 900 temp workers at Flins. Only a few months ago there were 1,500. Since October the factory went on short-time work, closing on Mondays and Fridays every week. There, as well, the temp workers are not given any pay for these days. The famous time account of nearly all permanent workers is in the red. They have to borrow from the time allotted for further training. The unions voice their disagreement (and not even all the unions do this). This is their job and it won't get far. It increases the feeling of resignation of all those who think that we cannot do anything about it anyway. The strike at Citroen has proven the contrary. The workers' resignation is the source of the bosses' strength. The previous generations of workers defended themselves, they struggled and gained achievements for the working class under conditions that often were more difficult than those we experience today. A young striker from Citroen told a journalist from Parisien libéré: 'What is it that I would risk? I have got nothing to loose'. The management of Citroen understood the situation well, they gave in. They know that they can easily tell how a strike began in the first place, but that they can never tell, which way it will go. (...)

mouvement communiste, Bruxelles-Paris, 24.11.2006 [www.mouvement-communiste.com]

[prol-position news #8 | 4/2007] www.prol-position.net