Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

7: The democratic union at Renault

From Front Ouvrier Renault, 10 July 1947

More than five weeks later, this and the following article appeared in Front Ouvrier Renault, 10 July 1947, as a reply to the above statement after the elections to the works council. Front Ouvrier Renault, subtitled Organe de la Tendence Revolutionnaire de la CGT, was four badly duplicated pages. There is no price given, so it was probably handed out as a leaflet. Daniel Renard (1925-1988) remained a member of the PCI and the OCI led by Pierre Lambert until his death on 15 November 1988

The creation of an independent union is not a new thing in the history of the workers’ movement. This question raises numerous problems which we cannot deal with here for lack of space. We will take up this problem in future issues

No.8 of the Voix des Travailleurs tells us of the formation of a Renault Democratic Union. Straightaway we must clearly say that this union, which the comrades of Union Communiste wish to create, has nothing to do with the strike committee which led last April’s strike. The strike committee arose from, and so represented, all the strikers, whatever their political or trade union opinions, but the majority of these comrades do not agree with this initiative of the Voix des Travailleurs. In this sense no tendency can claim to be the rightful successor of the strike committee and to state falsely that: “The most combative elements of the strike committee find themselves in the embrace of the CB of the Democratic Union”. [1]

Is it correct to create an independent union opposed to the CGT and the CNT? In our opinion, no! Today, in spite of their unspeakable behaviour, the trade union bureaucrats have still been able to win the whole list of workers’ delegates. This means that the trade union leaders who betrayed the demands of the workers are going to continue to represent them to Lefauchoux. Was this inevitable? Not at all! During the strike, when these representatives showed themselves to be scabs, the strike committee could have openly called for new trade union elections throughout the works. It would have been possible to throw out the scabs and to elect an EC of those who had shown themselves to be the best defenders of the claim. If this slogan had been given at that time, today the Trade Union Council of the works would have had on it a majority from the strike committee. The CGT would then become again what it had ceased to be: an organisation for the defence of the workers.

Instead of doing this, the SDR, which actually does not represent anyone, will isolate the best fighters from an absolutely vital struggle which must be waged against the Stalinists of the CGT in order to throw them out of its leading positions. So they have committed the same, or an even worse, error than the comrades of the CNT. And when the SDR asks the CNT why it played no role in the strike, which is true, if they continue in this orientation then tomorrow, in another movement, we will put that same question to them. For, if the CNT, despite the devotion of many of its members, was incapable of playing a role, it was because it was isolated from the real struggle of the masses, on the terrain where, in spite of all deceptions, they wished to fight. The terrain of the CGT must be returned to the workers. That is why the old ‘hards’ of Renault, even if they tore up their union cards, even if they did not get their cards stamped up, have voted for the CGT. Not for the Stalinists, but for a trade union organisation which they hoped would one day be theirs again. That is why the militants of Front Ouvrier called upon the workers to take up their cards, to go to the general meetings and to rejoin the union ranks because we want to throw out the incompetents and scabs.

The SDR, because of its narrow character, will not be able to play the role which is that of a mass trade union and to defend the interests of workers. The trade union of a sect renders sterile those tempted by it. It is not too late for comrades embarked on the wrong road to overcome their errors and return to the CGT and force on them a Works Council which is representative of all the workers.

Daniel Renard

1. Note by translator: this does not appear to be a quote from the Bois article though such a statement could be thought as implicit in its contents.

Updated by ETOL: 6.7.2003