F: The Rank and File Committees

Submitted by libcom on December 20, 2005

An increasing number of workers went to the Censier Center to seek contacts with the action committees, and the workers transformed the character of the Citroën Committee and they opened perspectives for organization and action by the workers themselves inside the factory. Meetings between the Citroën Committee with the Inter-Enterprise Committee and with workers from the Rhône Poulenc chemical plant opened further perspectives.

Rhône Poulenc workers familiarized the workers of other enterprises with the organization of rank-and-file committees which had taken place very successfully inside their factory. The echo was immediate. Citroën workers recognized that the rank-and-file organizations, where the decision-making power over the running of the strike remained with the workers themselves, was the solution to the problems they had faced during the strike. However the period in which the Citroën workers became familiar with the Rhone Poulenc rank-and-file committees no longer permitted the launching of such an organizational project inside Citroën, since this was one of the last factories still on strike, and since the strike had become a traditional union strike.

The Rhone Poulenc workers, who called on comrades in other plants to follow their example, also pointed out that real workers' power could not be realized unless rank-and-file organization was extended to other parts of the capitalist world. And during the time when the Citroën workers were learning of the experiences of the chemicals workers, some members of the Citroën Committee went to Turin to establish contacts with the Worker-Student League grouped around Fiat, the largest enterprise in Europe. In Turin, information was exchanged on the struggles of the workers in Italy, on the similarity of the obstacles posed by the unions in both countries, and on the significance of the action committees. The organization of rank-and-file committees and the problem of worker control opened up perspectives for the comrades in Turin. As a basis for further contacts, the two groups established a regular exchange of information ( leaflets, journals and letters ), exchanges of lists of demands, and direct contacts by workers and students. Italian comrades arrived in Paris from Milan in order to establish similar contacts with the Citroën Committee, and some members of the Citroën Committee itself returned to other countries ( such as England and the United States ) in order to generalize the international contacts.