Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 6 No. 4
In the last issue of Revolutionary History, I contributed a biographical note on the life of Alan Christianson, and in that note I wrote that while in France, a member of the Union Communiste introduced us to a meeting of the printers’ union, and I made the following comment: ‘On 26 January 1946 the printers’ union initiated large-scale strikes against the de Gaulle-Stalinist government.’ In the piece as published, this was altered to: ‘On 26 January 1946 the printers’ union was to strike against the de Gaulle-Stalinist government.’ Not quite the same thing. Why anyone should have altered my remark, I do not know. It was not empty speculation on my part, but was based on the report of the Renault strike of 1947 which appeared in Revolutionary History, Volume 2, no. 1, Spring 1989. The report was taken from Jeune Révolutionnaire, April 1971. It refers to the printers’ strike of 27 June, and a strike of the postal workers from 29 July to 4 August 1946, and goes on to say ‘from this strike a national strike committee sprang up ... which convened a conference of strike committees ... Two revolutionary organisations were represented among these people ... all of them trade unionists of the CGT.’
One was the Union Communiste, which survives today in the paper Lutte Ouvrière, and the other was the PCI (French Section of the Fourth International), today the Organisation Communiste Internationaliste (for the Reconstruction of the Fourth International). These two groupings put down roots among the workers of the Renault Billancourt plant. This led to a strike of 20,000 on 23 April 1947, which ended on 12 May. During this strike, the print workers printed and distributed at their own expense the appeal of the Central Strike Committee. On page 18 of this issue of Revolutionary History, it is pointed out that Renault opened the lock-gates, and a wave of strikes swept through France.
The bland phrase ‘the printers’ union was to strike against the ... government’ does not adequately reveal the rôle the printers’ union played in the struggles of that period.
The OCI to which Ernie refers has changed its name twice since the publication of the original article, first to the Parti Communiste Internationaliste, and lately to the Courant Communiste du Parti des Travailleurs – Editor.
Updated by ETOL: 30.9.2011