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French Trade Unions Attack Solidarność

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French Trade Unions Attack Solidarność

Five of the main French trade unions, the CFDT, CFTC, CGT, FO and UNSA, have filed a complaint with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) because they want to have the Polish trade union, Solidarność, excluded from the international organization.

The famous Polish trade union, which played a decisive role in the late 1980s in the fight against communism and the fall of the dictatorial regime in Poland, has been criticized by French trade unions for its excessive complacency towards two personalities of the French Right, Marine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour. The French unions have asked the ETUC to investigate and then determine the course of action to be taken: suspension or exclusion altogether. 

This denunciation comes after several articles featuring political figures from the French Right had been published by the Polish union. The weekly magazine Tygodnik Solidarność put a smiling and confident Marine Le Pen on the front page of its November 23th edition. In the interview, Marine Le Pen defends the Polish government in its battle with the institutions of the European Union and denounces the federalist project as seeking the death of the European nations, both politically and culturally. Marine Le Pen explains: “The European Union and its institutions are implementing their political project, which aims to move towards European federalism, to standardize standards and values and to gradually eliminate nation states and their specificity. And this is far from the will of the people. The European Union aims at the gradual abandonment of sovereignty by its member states. This includes the right of nations to self-determination, but also to defend their culture, their values, their ways of life and their traditions.” Le Pen’s attacks—”The European Union has never developed in a spirit of democracy”—did not sit well with the other trade unions.

Éric Zemmour was also interviewed by the same weekly in October. He called for the resistance of the Polish people against Brussels’s oppression.

It seems surprising that a union whose historical role was particularly prominent in bringing down a political dictatorship should be singled out in this way. Solidarność knows better than anyone else the obligation for exposing a corrupt government, and the serious political consequences that follow when threats to democracy are ignored. 

The secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, denounced the Polish Union as holding a “despicable position.” Secretary General Philippe Martinez of CGT charged Solidarność of insulting its glorious past, and the CFTC, FO and UNSA joined him in criticizing a “political bias” contrary to the principle of trade union independence. The French unions refuse to see that there is, on the contrary, a form of continuity in the struggle that Solidarność led against the communist regime and the one it is leading today against the excesses of European bureaucracy. Moreover, given the renewed closeness of the trade unions with the French left, the claim of the “principle of trade union independence” has become quite relative. Solidarność did not seem to be moved by these attacks, even while it recognizes the possibility of exclusion from the European Confederation, for it defends “leftist values” in contradiction with their own.

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