It could have remained a local wage dispute, similar to those that have arisen in many companies since the start of inflation… if it had not started in the midst of a battle against pension reform.
On March 20, it was also the blocking of the Vertbaudet warehouse in Marquette-lez-Lille (Nord) by the CGT of Tourcoing, which came to tow against the government project, which motivated 82 of the company’s 327 employees to go on strike for the first time in their lives. These order pickers, most of them paid minimum wage after sometimes twenty years in the house, have not digested that the mandatory annual negotiation agreement (NAO) signed on March 3 by FO and the CFTC only provides for bonuses. No salary increases.
More than two months later, 72 are still on strike. But the conflict now focuses political and media attention. It is the secretary general of the CGT, Sophie Binet, who, by going there on April 14, barely elected, gives the first spotlight. She sets up this picket as a symbol of the struggles for “the emancipation of working women by themselves” and call “moms to boycott Vertbaudet”.
“Despite a month-long strike, the fight of these women remained invisible. We had to show how emblematic this struggle was to attract support and create the balance of power they lacked., explain to Monde Sophie Binet.
That day, shortly after his departure, supporters from outside Vertbaudet entered the site. The management, which is part of “violence” and non-striking employees ” in a state of shock “, request the intervention of the police. Which will then be dispatched regularly on the spot to remove blockages or dislodge the picket, sometimes unceremoniously.
But the tension goes up a notch on May 15 and 16. Two supporters are arrested, one of whom is violently tackled to the ground, and placed in police custody. The next day, a policeman grabs a striker by the neck: she has four days of temporary incapacity for work. In the evening, the CGT Vertbaudet announced on Facebook that one of its union delegates had been the victim of a “punitive expedition” d’individus in civil “allegedly police” who took him into an unmarked vehicle to beat and threaten him. An investigation is opened by the public prosecutor of Lille.
This police violence makes the fight even more emblematic. In this in-between period, far from the last mobilization against the pension reform, the 1is May, and before a last parliamentary opportunity to bring down the text, on June 8, the left seizes the symbol.
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