Socialist Worker

French court jails trade unionists as government steps up repression

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2486

Jailed union rep Mickael Wamen

Jailed union rep Mickael Wamen outside the occupation at Goodyear in 2014 (Pic: Photothèque Rouge/JMB)


A French court jailed eight trade unionists for taking action to stop bosses closing their factory, yesterday, Tuesday. 

The trade unionists took part in a “boss-napping” at the Goodyear tyre factory in Amiens two years ago this month. They occupied offices and prevented two bosses from leaving for 30 hours. 

Eight workers, including CGT union federation rep Mickael Wamen and six other union members, are to serve nine months of a two year prison sentence. There were all convicted of kidnapping–and two also on charges related to violence.

“Boss-napping” and direct action are traditions in the French working class—ones that president Francois Hollande’s Labour-type government is determined to stamp out. Even after bosses dropped their complaint the state prosecutor pushed for the sentences. 

The workers’ lawyer Fiodor Rilov called it “an incredible judgement”.

“It’s part of a growing repression of trade unionists,” he said. “It will hang like a sword of Damocles over all workers who are fighting to save their workplaces”.

Rilov added that he “can’t believe” the prosecution’s demands were drawn up without government input.

Harsh

The workers’ CGT branch said, “The aim is to scare trade unionists into not fighting” as the government draws up harsh new changes to employment law.

CGT members and supporters marched in Bobigny near Paris last month in solidarity with five Air France workers charged with “violence” for tearing off a boss’s shirt. Their bosses were out to slash 1,000 jobs.

The workers are set to face trial in May and too could receive jail sentences. 

Hollande bragged about France as the home of free expression in the ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack last week.

Yet his government has already ramped up repression against Muslims and is debating new “counter terrorism” measures. Now he as at war with trade unionists too.

The Goodyear workers’ CGT branch vowed to launch “the biggest national campaign of trade union solidarity. 


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.