Front Commun: The Herculean Leap of the Working Class Quebecois

Kaveh Boveiri

Quebec general strike has become a real possibility. Photo credit to — Editors

Some say: “tens of thousands”; others say: “one hundred thousand – at least!” Whatever the precise estimation might be, the demonstration of September 25 on the streets of Montreal turns the page on the struggles of the working class in Quebec province.

The announced common denominator of this demonstration was the absence of a respectable offer from the side of the government of Quebec for the workers of the public sector. Moreover, the Front Commun Intersyndical did not ignore the unemployed and non-unionized people. The demonstrators knew this beforehand, and this gave this demonstration a more profound tint: hundreds carried slogans criticizing the current unemployment, inflation, and privatization, among others.

On this day, Front Commun Intersyndical found the tremendous repercussions of its invitation by a gigantic number of residents of Quebec. The formation of this front of the struggle of working-class members happened 50 years after the formation of the first Front Commun in 1972.

This second Front Commun was the result of the unification of four workers’ organisations: Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), la Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) et l’Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS). All in all, they represent 420000 workers active in the public sector.

The admirable characteristics of this development are multifold.

It is a well-known fact that the working class does not form a homogenous totality. The differences in gender, race, citizenship, age, and the level of precarity do not need to be underscored. The Front had succeeded in mobilizing the working class notwithstanding its heterogeneity.

The means to achieve their legitimate demands were not at all defensive either. This was highlighted in all the short addresses given by the elected speakers of all four organizations. It is probably best articulated in the mouth of the vice president of the CSN, François Enault: “Here, it feels like wrath. Yes! Not just wrath, but strike. Not, just any strike, but an unlimited general strike.” The reaction of the old, the young, and the children to this measure of activity was a “hurrah” that interrupted his speech for a long time. With their participation and with their reaction to the talks of their elected speakers, the demonstrators have repeated the slogan of the Front Commun written on the flags carried by them: “We, with a single voice.”

Enault, who is also the leader responsible for the negotiations of the public sector, announced the 93 percent support of the vote for an unlimited general strike. The government of Quebec had probably better wisely meet the demand of the working class before this alarming vote may actually be put into practice.


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