INTERNATIONAL LIAISON COMMITTEE
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Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" program tomorrow (Friday, March 27) will feature a report on the recent and successful 44-day general strike in Guadeloupe. Amy will be interviewing Kali Akuno, a leader of the Malcom X Grassroots Movement who was a central organizer of the U.S. solidarity effort with the struggle of the workers and people of Guadeloupe.
The Guadeloupe segment is scheduled to run at 8:15 a.m. in New York City. Listeners in the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to hear the interview with Kali Akuno at 6:15 a.m. and also at 9:15 a.m. Listeners in other cities can go to www.democracynow.org to find out when the show is broadcast.
We are also sending below, for your information, the latest interview with Elie Domota, general secretary of the UGTG trade union federation of Guadeloupe and spokesperson for the LKP Strike Collective. The interview was conducted March 15 by Robert Fabert for the ILC International Newsletter. It is reprinted here from issue no. 328 of the newsletter. Also reprinted below is the Preamble to the Jacques Bino agreement that ended the general strike.
Thanks to all of you for your ongoing support to the ILC campaigns. Your support of the heroic struggle of the workers and people of Guadeloupe made a real difference !
Ed Rosario and Alan Benjamin,
for the International Liaison Committee
Reprinted from ILC International Newsletter No. 328, March 18, 2009
Interview with General Secretary of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG) and spokesperson for the Liyannaj kont pwofitasyon (LKP) Strike Collective.
Following a powerful, united general strike that lasted 44 days, the workers, youth and the entire working population of Guadeloupe concluded an agreement that met their key demands, including a 200 euro increase in the monthly minimum wage.
We met with Elie Domota, General Secretary of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG) and spokesperson for Liyannaj kont pwofitasyon (LKP). He draws a few lessons from this movement for the readers of the ILC International Newsletter.
ILC : What is your balance sheet of the strike ?
ED : It is a very positive balance sheet. We witnessed 44 days of a total general strike. It was a great demonstration of unity of all workers and all the organizations forming the LKP.
Many said earlier that this was a Negro konplo a sé konplo chyen (a conspiracy of Negroes, a conspiracy of dogs - Ed)... Well, we have demonstrated that we can unite trade unions, political organizations, consumer organizations, tenants, and cultural movements. It is our diversity that has forged unity.
ILC : What was the origin of LKP and its role in the movement ?
ED : How was the LKP started ? Well, very simply : Previously, each organization worked on its own. In late November, at the UGTG, we decided to meet with other organizations, as a series of problems arose and we did not think that any one single organization could wage the fight successful; we needed broader unity.
It was relatively easy to meet, because for six years we have tried to mount what we called a program of demands of the working class. We were also together on May 1. But during all this time, we were unable to come to an agreement.
On December 5, 2008, we met first with the trade unions, with unions in the education, cultural movements, with political parties ... And then, liyannaj (alliance) took root ! There was the strike on December 16 and on the 17th. We went to the Prefecture de Basse-Terre (French Government Building)... and we decided to continue the movement in January.
Thus, the LKP was created. In this dynamic (Balan), we have found a color and a name and a new song, The Gwadloup sé tannou (Guadeloupe Is Ours) repeated in chorus by all the demonstrators ... It adan balan (very quickly) took off. The LKP is the fruit of the unity begun between organizations for the past several years.
ILC : Guadeloupe will never be as before, say the workers, activists ... Do you agree ? And for you, what does that mean ?
ED : I agree. But I want to say that we do not operate in fits and starts, by shock. We must maintain some regularity and consistency in all our actions if we don't want to fall back into the system we condemn.
This means, above all, changing social relationships, establishing new social relationships, new relationships between men and women of our country. And above all, social relations in the workplace. We Indians and Blacks, who are majority in this country, must feel proud and stop bowing our heads and accepting the unacceptable.
ILC : In the immediate sense, what does this movement symbolize for the people and workers in the world ?
ED : This may symbolize the fact that it is the big struggles that make the wheels of history turn. Today, large international capital controls everything, including the politicians who apply their dictates. We can show that a small nation of 400,000 inhabitants can challenge this system based on exploitation and submission.
ILC : Legal charges have been brought against you for "incitement to racial hatred" and "the extortion of signatures on the Jacques Bino Agreement."
ED : This is an attempt to denigrate the movement: the words were not racist (1). They reflect a reality, the organization of society in Guadeloupe, which has always, and is still, based on a relationship of races and classes for nanni Nannan (that goes back a long time). At the top of the pyramid, it is always the same: békés and whites, and at the bottom, the Black and Indians. 400 years later, we live in a photocopy of the same slave plantation society.
The truth is that we are still out on strike in companies that refuse to implement the Bino agreement (2), we call for the implementation of the agreement... And what does the prosecutor do? He opens an investigation for "extortion to sign" the agreement. This, I repeat, is an attempt to smear us, to demonize us, to reverse the gains we have won.
We are ready and we are not intimidated if they proceed against us! In the court, should it go this far, there will be a forum to expose to the world what our society is all about, what the French state does in a small dominated country.
- Interviewed conducted by Robert Fabert
(1) Interviewed on television at a moment when the béké (while eilite) bosses refused to sign the agreement, Elie Domota said : "Either they will implement the agreement, or they will leave Guadeloupe; we will not let a bunch of békés restore slavery."
(2) Jacques Bino : The name of the trade union activist shot dead in the night of February 17-18, 2009.
Preamble to the inter - regional agreement on wages in Guadeloupe : Jacques Bino agreement.
Between the undersigned signatories :
- For the organizations of employers : UMPEC, UCE, GRIP, OPGSS, UNAPL ;
- For the trade unions of employees : CGTG, CFDT, CFTC, CGT-FO, UGTG, UNSA organized within the Liyannaj Kont Pwfitasyon (LKP).
In the presence of Mr. DESFORGES, Prefect of the Guadeloupe Departement, and under the mediation of Messrs. BESSIERE, LOPEZ, LEMAIRE Arcont.
- Considering that the economic and social conditions in Guadeloupe are a result of the persistence of the plantation economy model.
- Considering that this economy is based on monopoly profits and the abuse of a dominant position, which generates injustice.
- Considering that these injustices affect both workers and our internal economic growth.
- Considering that they are obstacles to economic development and the internal social development.