Strikers speak out

Submitted by Anon on 6 November, 2009 - 9:10 Author: Ed Maltby

Badiaga, Camara, Doukouré, Dramé, Gakou, Kouyaté, Siby, Sylla are delegates from the Seni strikers, industrial cleaners at Kremlin-Bicêtre (Val-de-Marne). They are members of the CGT.

How do you explaing this movement?

The struggle was started by those who are currently contracted with Seni, but we have among us comrades who were employed in the past for short contracts. On our picket line, there are some comrades who are not presently employed by Seni. Some have been sacked, some as long as five years ago. Some of us are in the process of being regularised.

The movement is demanding a general change in the laws on regularisation...

If such a change is won, we want it to be in our favour, so that the law recognises the undocumented migrant workers who work and live here, and pay their taxes. Without discrimination, even against those who have not worked for a year. We want papers for all workers, even those who work illegally.

What do you want the support committees to do?

We want them to help us shift the situation forward. By signing petitions, by collecting solidarity money, by participating in our demonstrations. Some of us are parents of schoolchildren: we are counting on the support of the RESF network, who can mobilise other parents of schoolchildren, and their teachers.

Why is regularisation a trade union demand?

Yesterday, with the CGT, we created a union for workers at Seni, with or without papers. We have elected our representatives. The major struggle is currently around papers. From there, we want to concentrate on the right to housing, wage demands, the recognition of retirement rights, the respect of our statutory rest period, the right to sick leave, the recognition of work accidents... All things which the bosses deny to migrant workers. We want everyone to be able to live with dignity in this, the land of human rights.

Sadio Dianka is 41 years old. He came from Mali in 2000 and works in construction. He is knowingly employed on borrowed papers by Suburbaine, the business responsible for the construction of the Paris tramway.

“As soon as the movement started I got involved and I will stick it out to the end. Since I have been on strike, I have no longer been afraid, and I am fighting for my rights and my future. The presence of trade unions and supporters gives us courage.”

Mamadou P left Dogon to come live in France. Along with over 2,000 other undocumented migrant workers, he has been occupying the offices of the CPAM health insurance agency on the rue Baudelique in Paris, since the 17 July 2009.

“I worked various jobs in Mali, as a teacher and football coach. My situation became difficult, so I decided to try my luck in France. But here I only have the right to work horrible jobs which do not meet my aspirations. Currently, I work in a restaurant for a boss who is certainly suspicious of my situation. That made me join the struggle, and join a collective of undocumented migrants.

I am in solidarity with striking workers. We all have the same goal, and I think that the methods of struggle must all converge if we want to see a positive outcome to this movement.”

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