The Council of State has ruled against the Post Office. This is a humiliating defeat for the Post office as well as for the ‘majority’ unions.
At the end of the 90s the socialist government began the dismantling of the PTT as a public institution (creating France Telecom and the Post Office). The Post Office, using its specific legal circumstances (No longer being an organisation solely employing civil servants nor a private enterprise) invented its own set of rules about the management of staff.
Even though workers, with the support of the unions, tried to resist it must be admitted that over the past 20 years the ‘private management’ of the Post Office managed to impose and maintain itself. Even though the appeals court regularly ruled against it for drawing up illegal work contracts.
The CNT PTT federation emerged almost 30 years ago and benefited from the union rights of a rank and file organisation. The CNT PTT has always refused to enter into co-operative agreements with management. In particular it has always refused to submit candidates in workplace elections fro representatives and has focussed on direct action.
In January 2006 the Post Office signed an agreement on union rights with the ‘minority’ unions (CFDT, CFTC, FO, UNSA). The two majority unions (SUD and CGT) refused to sign but did not exercise their right to veto and the agreement came into effect. One of the more significant points was making the presentation of candidates at workplace elections obligatory. It should also be noted that elected representatives were given the right to an automatic promotion after 2 years, which explains the actions of many yellow unionists.
The signatories ( and the non-signatories by their inaction) defined, completely illegally, which unions would be recognised as ‘representative’ in the Post Office. The other unions were consequently ‘illegal’. With the stroke of a pen the CNT PTT was removed from the register of postal unions. The majority of militants decided to continue their day to day union work within the workplace. They began a campaign of resistance. An informational campaign was launched, including: distributing leaflets; making calls to other unions for support; making false stamps with the CNT ‘strike cat’ wearing a gag on them and the mass sending of postcards to the president.
In the autumn of 2006 the CNT PTT decided to use the courts to demand the cancellation of this agreement. The opening of this struggle required a general appeal to all the unions of the confederation to help pay for the ‘costs of justice’. Across the country managers of Post Office branches began (often supported by ‘yellow’ unionists) began to attack the union, removing announcement boards, letterboxes and union locals.
During this period of time the so-called restructuring of the Post Office saw further attacks on workers (closure of sorting offices, opening of the Post Office bank, the facteurs d’avenir programme etc). the CNT militants, with the means at their disposal, fought back, participating in general assemblies of workers and calling for strike action. For this workers were punished, there were verbal threats, daily harassment and bullying, sackings, official warnings and workers fired before they could gain employment rights.
On May 15th the council of state (the highest court in the land) came to a decision. The agreement was cancelled and the Post Office was ordered to pay the CNT PTT the sum of 3000 euros!
The union rights of the CNT PTT have therefore been restored without their being obliged to whore themselves in union elections. This reverse is also felt by the ‘official’ unions who have long abandoned class struggle as well as the defence of their members.
Now more than ever is the time to take up a combative approach towards the bosses and to fight against yellow unions and co-operation agreements.
CNT PTT – the postal workers’ branch of the CNT