Manifesto of the UCL

Our Revolutionary Syndicalist Practice

We promote the entire repertoire of actions of revolutionary unionism – strike, boycott, worker sabotage, blockade – including their new and reinvented forms, as long as they are based on the direct action of workers.

Cortège de SUD-Rail lors d’une grève cheminote, en mai 2016.
cc Jean-Claude Saget

The trade union movement was born from the will to organize workers in revolt against oppression and exploitation. It opposes the employers, who count on the individual isolation of the proletarians, to their collective strength that concerted action brings.

The struggle for demands in study and workplaces is mainly carried out through union action. We therefore advocate active participation in unionism and syndicalism, understood first of all as an act of mass uniting in struggles and class self-organization.

As in any form of association, this collective force benefits the associated individuals and more widely our class, provided that it is not seized by a minority to the detriment of the collectivity. This is the case when there is a distinction between the leaders and the led, which results in leaders using the organization to serve their interests rather than that of the common cause. Unionism is not a career !

We are also aware that the union movement is — like many things during a non-revolutionary period
— crossed by a contradiction between integration and rupture. And that integration generates a strong tendency towards social compromise and bureaucracy.

However, we cannot be satisfied with the rejection of the unions by a part of the proletariat. It leads to demobilizing the employees rather than encouraging them to challenge the State and the employers’ power. It is through a self-managing syndicalist practice, with a class struggle praxis that the unions will again become an attractive tool for social struggles.

A repertoire of direct actions

We defend a revolutionary syndicalism in the spirit and dynamics of self-organization as originally carried out by the proletariat, represented by the grassroots union movement, by integrating the historical conquests of the emancipatory struggles led since its origin.

We therefore promote the whole repertoire of actions of revolutionary unionism — strike, boycott, workers’ sabotage, blockades — including their new and reinvented forms, as long as they are based on the direct action of workers.

To us, the perspective of the general strike is a weapon for the proletariat in order to defend its interests as much as a possible lever for a revolutionary takeover of the means of production. This does not mean that we should multiply, out of context, incantatory calls for a mythical general strike, but that we should set it as a strategic aim, structuring our action.

This implies participating in union debates and energizing, or even sometimes establishing, democracy in unions.

Blocage, par la CGT, de l’usine de traitement des déchets d’Ivry-sur-Seine, en mai 2016.
cc Daniel Maunoury

For workers’ unity, despite divisions

We advocate the independence of unions against any external grouping aiming to instrumentalize them, internal democracy and federalism, the sharing, control and revocability of mandates. We want to revive unions as an interprofessional organizational frame, through the development of tools promoting the emergence of solidarity and class consciousness : local unions, departmental unions, industrial unions and federations, confederations.

Divisions in unions are caused by several factors : bureaucratization, questioning of union independence, anti-democratic manoeuvres, to which have since been added competition and partisanship. In opposition to this logic, beyond the « patriotisms of organization », we assert the necessity of workers’ unity and intend to work to create the conditions for a reunification of the trade union movement of class and struggle, without denying the difficulty of such a task.

We support all other forms of organizing that workers in struggle may adopt (general assemblies, strike committees, coordination...), in particular when these can complement, or even compensate for, the current limitations of trade union organizations.

We defend international solidarity in the trade union field. Finally, we support unionism that integrates the diversity of the proletariat : public and private workers, employed or unemployed, active or retired, whatever their origin, their nationality, their gender, their sexual orientation.

Carrying out a grassroots democracy

We may be led in concrete practice to inscribe our revolutionary syndicalism in different organizations. The essential thing for us is the real possibility, which may be offered by a structure or another, of developing activist collectives and truly advocating for social claims. Thus, we defend a practical syndicalism, grounded on how things concretely take place. It inscribes itself first of all in the base structures, but refuses to consider the fragmentation of the union movement as positive or inevitable.

It is to serve this activity of the grassroots collectives, and in the scrupulous respect of union democracy, that comrades can be mandated, in all positions and at all levels, by the members of their structures.

As revolutionary syndicalists, we refuse the social-democratic division of work between the party, which deals with politics i.e. also with questions of society, and the union, which is confined to immediate demands. For us, the union organization must carry its own strategy of transformation of society, elabourated in full independence. It is an essential space for the construction of a counter- power. It must allow us to sharpen the self-management capacities of our class.

If it seems obvious that the case of trade unions, like all the important components of society, is discussed everywhere, including in the political currents, we disapprove of « fractions », of which members are led, whatever their opinion, to act in a concerted way to pass on the directives of their political organization in the union, discarding the independence and the capacity of elabouration of the latter.


Manifesto of the UCL
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