The Need for Workers’ Struggles

The management employed the usual union-busting tactics. When workers were dismissed because of their union activities, the SWU responded by calling for international solidarity. In one protest action, French workers staged a sit-in at a Starbucks outlet in Paris to express their solidarity with American baristas who were fired from work because of their union activities.

Recently, the management, citing the economic crisis, has cut work hours and closed stores. The union responded with pickets against lay offs and store closings, and to demand for severance pay.

In Germany, German and French workers demonstrated together at the headquarters of Continental Tyres in Hanover, Germany during a meeting of the shareholders of the company. The German and French workers were protesting the scheduled closure of two plants in Hanover and in Clairoix, France by 2010.

Earlier, French workers in Clairoix destroyed the entrance to the Continental tyre factory to protest its eventual closure. They also sacked local prefecture offices when the court dismissed their appeal to secure a stay in the plant’s closure. A prefecture is France’s version of the local government.

Perhaps people may ask would militant action not give the management more reason to retrench workers? Would it not be better to play it safe?

With or without militant action, the management of companies would retrench workers if they feel a reduction in their rate of profit. In fact, some companies are using the economic crisis as an excuse for retrenching workers and intensifying the exploitation of those who would be retained. Militant action would make the management think twice before retrenching workers for fear of causing a disruption in their operations and consequently, a greater reduction in profits. It would also make the management think twice before intensifying the exploitation of its remaining workers.

If a company is in the red, it would retrench workers with or without the union confronting it with militant action. Nevertheless, militant action could force the management to give more separation benefits than it would have given to submissive workers.

More importantly, it is the right of workers to fight for their rights to gainful employment and a decent living for their families. Otherwise their rights would be trampled upon for the sake of profit. Furthermore, the crisis is not a natural calamity. It was and is being caused by the very same companies that governments are frantically trying to save. Periodic crisis are inherent in capitalism. And only the working class could effectively address and solve it.(

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