The Bourse du travail at rue Charlot in Paris has been occupied since 2 May 2008.
Whereas the occupation of the Bourse du travail in Paris by the Sans-papiers workers is officially threatened by eviction by the highest authority of management of the Bourse, it really seems that the time has come to ask oneself one simple question: what is the balance sheet of this struggle?
These ten months of a struggle that has often been fierce – at least in terms of the means, tensions, the human efforts that have been used and created - of a struggle that has been entirely autonomous, despite the initial intentions of the participants, what do they leave behind if the expulsion was to take place?
Our journal has posed this question to Sissoko, the best one to answer it as he is the coordinator and spokes-person of the parisian collectives that have come together in the Coordination of the Sans-papiers 75. His answers covers three aspects. First let us look at the balance sheet in terms of regularizations. Thereafter, the specific moment when the announcement of the eviction took place. Thirdly, we will briefly look at the soon-to-come actions (if the eviction was to take place).
BALANCE SHEET OF THE REGULARIZATIONS
To begin with, even without looking at the number of regularizations we could still say that the balance sheet is somehow positive. The CSP 75 has won in terms of recognition from the city administration. Before the occupation we were received every three months. Now, it's every month. At the same time, we have strengthened our autonomy in relation to all support groups. A new kind of consciousness is forming itself, among us, by our own strength, of that which we can do and win by our own organisation and our own will.
Let us now turn to regularizations. Between the 15th and the 22nd July we have brought about 750 applications for regularization to the city administration. As this is being written (26th February) more than 110 of these have been considered and almost 90 regularizations have been obtained. 400 applications for regularization are still waiting to be brought to the administration.
It is from the end of September that the regularizations have begun and therefore I do not consider those that took place earlier during 2008. All in all we have thus obtained 90 regularizations out of 750 applications, in other words 12 percent spread out over 5 months. Can this result be considered as weak?
In order to put it into perspective it is necessary to compare it to the one put forth by the CGT who claims to have achieved 1500 regularizations. (Actually this is not completely true because the CGT also counts the temporary permits of residence (APS, Autorisations Provisoires de Séjour), from one month to three months ; these are not real regularizations, it is compulsory to leave the country if the temporary permit is not renewed.)
Let us assume that, like Droits devant ! did in their assessment of the state extortion concerning the cotisations of the sans-papiers, they are 400 000 (“official” number) and at least half of them work (this is far from the reality of our experience ; at the occupation of the Bourse more than 90% of the sans-papiers work) and that only represents 0,75 percent of the “regularization through work”, and this during more than one year! (During more than three times five months : the occupations of Métal Europe, Buffalo Grill, Paris Store, etc., took place in 2007.)
In relation to the most powerful union of french workers we are not more than a small coordination of collectives of sans-papiers. This union speaks of “bad methods” when talking about us. Which is the “good method”?
In comparison to the “regularization through work” of this union it is our own little struggle that pays off !
THE CHOICE OF THE MOMENT
The communiqué of the administrative committe of the Bourse du Travail is all the more surprising as it comes while a mediation is taking place since two months, thanks to the Haut Conseil des Maliens de France (The High Council of the Malians in France). This mediation had not come to a standstill on the 5th of February when the communiqué was presented ; on the contrary, the two parties were moving closer together.
Coming in the middle of all of this, it seems to us that this communiqué shows at least a lack of respect towards the mediators that got themselves involved sincerely and positively while having a neutral stance between the two parts.
Or if there is any logic to be found in this, could it not be that this communiqué is a means to pressure the Coordination 75 in order to force us to accept propositions on which we only partly agree, because we are formulating our own propositions or amendments to theirs.
It is still possible to ask : could it be that the unions are scared of the results of our struggle, compared to theirs? Indeed, this communiqué was presented, as if by chance, at the very moment when we were gaining more and more regularizations from the city administration.
A FEW PERSPECTIVES
Let us look at it from the worst of angles: that the eviction would be carried through.
The positive balance sheet of our struggle is there to show that the Coordination 75 has a larger vision on Sans-papiers struggles than the unions. If they decide to attack us, just like the communiqué of the administrative committe threatens to do, they will seem to be one-sidedly pursuing the “regularization through work” within the framework of the existing legislation. They would appear as having made the choice of not wanting to change it towards the regularization of all the sans-papiers. Speaking of the CGT this appears all the more serious as it seems to be in opposition to the decisions already taken by their congress.
The Coordination 75 will continue to fight for regularizations, with or without eviction. First and foremost for all of our Sans-papiers and also for the 400 who still are to transmit their applications for regularization, and after that, in a more broad manner for the regularization of all the Sans-papiers in France. Our words for the initiatives to come stays thus the same: the struggle continues!
This is a translation from french from le Journal de la Bourse du Travail Occupée, issue 11 (27 february 2009).
All issues and more (french) at: http://bourse.occupee.free.fr/