From New International, Vol.1 No.4, November 1934, p.128.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
[From La Voix Communiste, organ of the Belgian Internationalist Communist League, we take the following comment on the question of trade union unity in France.]
THE position of the two groups, CGT [reformist] and CGTU [Stalinist] toward this problem, are the following: the CGTU is proposing an inter-trade union congress of fusion, recommending the constitution of new trade union organisms called “single unions” and affiliation to the Red International of Labor Unions; a referendum among the workers on the points of disagreement.
The Administrative Commission of the CGT proposes the following tactic:
“Unity from below in the Confederated unions [CGT] followed by general assemblies in which all the members who have fused will dispose of equal rights to name the leadership of the trade union and, eventually, the delegates to the federal unity congress;
“Unity in the federations in which all the trade unions having the same rights to make proposals and to vote, will designate the leadership of the united federation. A delegation of the former Unitary Federation would be added to the bureau of the Confederated Federation in order to have a check over admission to the trade union congress and the exactitude of the manner in which the mandates and the votes are to be verified;
“Unity in the unions by the adherence of the trade unions of the same department to the departmental union and convocation of constitutional assemblies to name the leadership of the union;
“Unity in the CGT by an extraordinary congress composed of the delegates of all the trade unions freely designated by them by majority vote;
“This extraordinary congress should be prepared with the collaboration of a delegation of the CGTU in order to assure the respecting of the statutes, the control over admission of the trade unions, the sincerity of all operations and votes;
“This congress should decide the leadership and the orientation of the old CGT thus reconstituted. It could indicate all the modifications in the statutes which the reconstituted unity might appear to necessitate.”
What are the Stalinist leaders of the CGTU – who declare that they defend the interests of the workers – waiting for before accepting this working basis which we consider perfectly acceptable?
Is it not urgent to the French workers to forge their unity of action immediately in order to prepare themselves for the struggle which they must engage in against their imperialism which, for the moment, strikes at their trade union, press and other rights and which only waits to strike at their working conditions and their lives?
The workers affiliated to the CGTU must mandate their leaders to accept this working basis which guarantees the right of expression, of criticism and the application of democratic centralism, and to act in the future in such a manner that these rights remain preserved.
The participation of the heads of the CGTU in trade union work being guaranteed, what are they waiting for before inviting their members to effect the necessary turn?
Doumergue, the spokesman of the bourgeoisie, wants to revise the constitution in order to attack the workers’ liberties more violently and to pave the road for Fascism. To prevent the anti-working class reform of the constitution, it is necessary to realize trade union unity so as to prepare the general strike which must be called against Doumergue or against the Fascist bands who are ready to recommence the coup of February 6 if Doumergue does not obtain from parliament and the senate the convocation of the national assembly or if the elections are unfavorable for him after the dissolution.
The Spanish example cries out to the workers to act speedily and to cast aside every obstacle that stands in their way.
Long live trade union unity by the return of the CGTU into the CGT and the unity congress to follow it.
There is no other road to salvation for the French working class.
Last updated on 2.7.2006