French workers occupy to demand oxygen production

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 09:52

Michael Elms

Until 2019, the British firm Luxfer Holdings PLC owned and ran an oxygen cylinder factory in Gerzat in northern France.

In May 2019, production ceased. In January 2020, construction teams arrived at the site, only to find it occupied by former workers demanding its nationalisation. That occupation lasted until 19 March.

This plant can produce 950 oxygen cylinders a day, which would be very useful to many sorely-afflicted sufferers of Covid-19. The owners of the plant refuse to reopen it for production.

French President Emmanuel Macron might have declared in a speech that “this pandemic

Requisition and workers' control to get tests and PPE

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 09:07

Martin Thomas

In the Thursday 8pm “clapping for the NHS” on 2 April 2020, many people chanted “Test! Test! Test! PPE!”

Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers.

So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April: “There are still trusts that are unable to begin testing, and lack of swabs, reagents and test kits is a continuing concern”.


Work or full pay!

Published on: Tue, 07/04/2020 - 07:41

As of 1 April, 950,000 new people had applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks. Usually new applications run at about 100,000 a week. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people have lost their jobs because they were on casual contracts, and because they worked for businesses which have laid them off or simply shut down.

Many small employers have laid off workers, but also big ones, like universities.

Many who are self-employed — really self-employed, or formally self-employed while really being wage-workers — are not able to use the government’s scheme for aid to the self-employed,

La France Insoumise and Covid-19

Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 07:29

Igor Tahm-Kench

After agreeing with the government to "leave the controversies for later", Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the MPs of La France Insoumise have spoken. On a live LCI broadcast on Monday 30 March, the head of LFI opined that "the time has come to ban posted worker contracts, to repatriate posted workers by putting in the papers, or to keep them here and treat them properly", because "in France lorries are still coming in from a series of countries where there is no containment and which can therefore these lorries and be vectors for disseminating the virus".

LFI's answer to the virus: foreign workers go

Two communiques from France

Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 07:15

Ed Maltby

Photo by Fran Boloni on Unsplash

We reproduce the Ile-de-France union regions (URIF) communiqué of March 23, 2020; and the declaration issued by the national coordination of strikers of 28 March.

Document 1 (23 March)
A common position along these lines should be taken at the national level. Cross-union unity shouldn't be dissolved in the state of emergency
Communiqué of URIFS CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, UNL

The trade union regional bodies of Ile-de-France (URIF) of the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, with [student unons] UNEF and UNL, reject the law declaring a "state of health emergency

International struggles

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:13

In Italy, workers’ stoppages of production in major factories, Arcelor Mittal, Fiat-Chrysler, Fincantieri, Maserati, Yamaha, Ducati, among others, about inadequate safeguards against infection within factories, pushed three trade union confederations — CGIL, CISL, and UIL — to get a joint protocol with government and employers on 14 March about minimum standards. The agreement has been criticised by grassroots activists as too soft. — Francesco Pontarelli on Global Labour Column

Amazon in France

After French Amazon workers threaten to use the equivalent in French law of Section 44 of the

Michel Lequenne, 1921-2020

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 10:32

Martin Thomas

“The last Trotskyist” — so Michel Lequenne, who died on 13 February 2020 aged 98, sometimes described himself, according to a tribute by Antoine Artous and Francis Sitel.

Arguably he was indeed the last surviving Orthodox Trotskyist with an unbroken political thread from the early 1940s. There are other Orthodox Trotskyists — the more-or-less theory-free network around Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party, the “Morenist” diaspora, those post-Mandelites who still call themselves “Trotskyist” — but they scarcely attempt to offer a systematically-developed ideological tradition.

In the introduction to

Marxists and “left governments”

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:21

Sacha Ismail

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit

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