Solidarity with Striking French Postal Workers


POSTE 92
51 rue Jean Bonal
92250 – La Garenne Colombes (FRANCE)
e-mail : SUD-POSTE-92@wanadoo.fr

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We write to ask your support for a strike at La Poste, the French post office. The strike began on March 26, 20018 and has continued now for more than six months. We are striking to defend decent postal jobs, to stop privatization of the postal service, and because we want to provide good service to the public. Since the strike began we have received no pay, and while other unions and organizations have assisted us, we must now come to you to ask for your help.

Who are we? We are 150 postal workers in the Hauts-de-Seine district in the western suburbs of Paris who are committed to defending our union, our jobs, and our important public service. It was La Poste’s firing of Gaël Quirante, the top officer of the SUD Poste 92 union, that initially sparked the strike, a firing authorized by the French Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud, a former business executive in the conservative government of Emmanuel Macron.

As we went out on strike, we raised other issues beyond the firing of our union leader, issues such as privatization through sub-contracting, the use of temporary workers, the increasing workloads, and the deterioration of service to the public. This strike is notable for its exceptional length but also because it expresses a popular anger about issues such as the government’s attack on the railroad workers and cuts in workers pension, anger that threatens to boil over at any moment.

Our labor federation, Solidaires, meaning Solidarity, was founded in 1981. We represent many workers in health care, posts, telecommunication, transportation. Many of our members are activists in the women’s movement, as well as around immigrant rights and environmental issues. As a union, we in SUD Poste 92 work consciously to build links between all current social struggles in France.

Usually postal strikes occur at one location at a time, but we have struck several sites at once. Usually workers simply fight their own strikes, but we have joined the strikes and protests of railroad workers, Goodyear rubber workers, retail workers, and students, as well as immigrants’ protests.

Our strike is a democratic movement, one in which the workers make the decisions. We strikers meet daily and we make all of our decisions in general assemblies.

Since the strike began we have both won some victories and suffered some temorary defeats. The strike forced La Poste to recognize the status of Gaël as a union representative despite the fact that he has been fired, something that never happens in France.

At the same time, Gaēl has been summoned three times to the police station several times on the basis of false statements and now has three court dates. We who are walking the picket lines and participating in the demonstrations have had to face assaults by both supervisors and by the police.

Yet, on the brighter side, a wide variety of labor and political leaders who are important in French society have declared their opposition to the firing of Gaël. These include Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the most important left political party, France Insoumise; Élie Domota, the leader of the Movement Against Exploitation (LKP) in Guadeloupe; and both leaders of the Communist Party and of the largest labor federation, the General Confederation of Workers (CGT). Ken Loach, the famous director, has also given us his support. You can find the long list of our high profile supporters here.

The French government of Emmanuel Macron has grown very unpopular after its attack on the railroad workers and on the national retirement system. Only two years ago France had its Occupy Wall Street moment called Nuit debout (“Up all night”): the combination of that movement with strikes in transport and oil refinery plants inspired thousands of activists in the youth and the labor movement. Over the last several months railroad workers carried out repeated strikes in defense of the French railroad system and their jobs.

We who work at La Poste, as well as many other activists know that this strike is bigger than our 150 workers. It brings together workers and the public and threatens to disrupt business as usual not only at La Poste but, as the resistance against austerity, budget cuts, and reduction of public services spreads, it also threatens to spark a wider movement.

We believe the fight must go on until our union leader is returned to his position, our jobs are secure, and our service to the public is protected. In order to continue, we need your help. We ask you to take this information to your local, regional, or national union and seek both a resolution in support of our strike and funds to help keep us going.

We also ask you as an individual to make a financial contribution to the strike, large or small as that may be. We ask for your solidarity. Solidarity is all we have, you and us — but when we engage in solidarity, it is enough.

Please go to https://www.paypal.me/supportpostalworkers to contribute.

You can also send a contribution via bank transfer to:

Name : SUD POSTE 92
Bank name : CREDITCOOP NANTERRE
IBAN : FR76 4255 9100 0008 0033 2571 214

You can watch a video calling to support the strike here.

A few videos with English subtitles to give you an idea of the atmosphere of the strike:

Gaël explains the meaning of the strike
“Every Labor organizations should call to a strike in solidarity with the students!” (Xavier, SUD Poste 92)
“Our problems are all workers’ problems” (Mounir, a striker)
“Police out of post offices!”

In solidarity,
Xavier CHIARELLI
Brahim IBRAHIMI
Gaël QUIRANTE

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