The Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor-Party Philippines) is petitioning the French government to end its brutal repression of the workers’ strike in the island of Guadeloupe.
We firmly uphold that a strike is a just and rightful act of pursuing legitimate demands by the working class. And we were informed that in this particular case, the strike is mainly about the demand for an increase in minimum wage – which is a very legitimate demand by workers around the world in the face of the raging global economic crisis. Hence, suppressing the workers’ right to strike is a major violation of core labor standards guaranteed by international laws and conventions.
We are therefore saddened by the reports that instead of meeting some demands of our fellow workers in Guadeloupe, the French government sent in the police force and a battalion of troops to quell the strike, arresting several trade union leaders and injuring many strikers in the process.
Trade union repression and all other forms of suppressing legitimate actions by the people we believe is the hallmark of colonial rule and therefore have no place in the modern and civilized world. But the brutal action against the Guadeloupe workers made Sarkozy no different from King Louis XVI, and Jogo from De Launay, the ruthless governor of Bastille then who treated the workers’ uprising of 1789 as mere angry mob.
All governments around the world must recognize the fact that it is the workers who toiled in creating this unprecedented wealth the world had for the last century and onwards. But we also are the ones who suffer the most during crises. Capitalists have their yachts to weather this storm, while workers don’t even have life vests to stay afloat.
It is therefore the right of every worker to demand relief against job loss, wage cut and work flexibilization. For workers, surviving this crisis will never mean surrendering the rights they have won since the last millennium. The crisis did not give the capital the right to undercut labor rights.
What happened in Greece in December, in France in January, and now in a small island of Guadeloupe is a portent of things to come. In the Philippines, local strikes are building up in export zones as foreign and local companies resort to closures and production slowdown displacing tens of thousands of workers. Like the workers in Guadeloupe, Filipino workers are also campaigning for a ‘bailout package’ for the workers and the poor.
We are hoping that the French government heeds the international call for it to refrain from using brute force in dealing with the strike in Guadeloupe. We also demand that arrests must be stopped and those who were arrested released unconditionally. And most importantly, for this strike and the future strikes to be averted, the workers’ demands must be addressed.
Judy Ann Miranda
Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines)