Tribune Ouvriere

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Mike Harman
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Sep 27 2017 20:26
Tribune Ouvriere
Does anyone know if Tribune Ouvriere has been translated into English? I was able to find a full French archive of the original paper here: http://archivesautonomies.org/spip.php?article113 Socialism ou Barbarie wrote about it a bit.
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jef costello
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Sep 27 2017 21:37

Spent a bit of time looking, journal of the same name published by CGT in guadeloupe in 60s and by LCT (Ligue communiste des travailleurs) in Senegal in the 70s and at least one more. The obvious English translation of the title has been used by at least two translated journals from spanish.

This particular one doesn't seem available easily, it's quite likely that if it ever was translated it would be sat around in paper copies in someone's house somewhere.

How useful is it? The texts don't seem too long (I only skimmed a couple) so they could be translated.

Mike Harman
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Sep 28 2017 09:37

My French isn't good enough to tell what the content is like.

It's mentioned in Facing Reality (1958) as an example of workers inquiry, which started with Grace Boggs https://libcom.org/history/american-worker-paul-romano-ria-stone in 1948, that article got translated into French pretty quick, but not sure if the Renault paper was a result of this or it was coincidence that they were doing the same thing. Henri Simon also mentions it here https://www.viewpointmag.com/2013/09/26/workers-inquiry-in-socialisme-ou-barbarie/
(more in that article but this gives an idea).

Henri Simon wrote:
On the contrary, innumerable debates unfolded in the weekly meetings on the question of a workers paper. Such a paper existed, clandestinely, Tribune Ouvrière, operated by group of workers at the Renault factory in Billancourt (a suburb of Paris), a few of whom were close to Socialisme ou Barbarie (one was a member).

To recount the history of Tribune Ouvrière, workers bulletin of the Renault factory at Billancourt necessitates retracing the situation in the factory and the relations of labor in the fifteen years that followed the Second World War. To broadly summarize, this factory of about 30,000 workers, the “workers’ fortress,” as we used it call it at the time, was then dominated by the CGT, tied closely to the Communist Party, and which until 1947, imposed the management’s production imperatives. It was in line with the national political union for the economic reconstruction of capitalism in France.

The class struggle continued nonetheless, and Trotskyist militants succeeded in polarizing opposition against this politics of class collaboration in certain workshops in the factory, and in unleashing in April-May 1947 a wildcat strike and the creation of a strike committee outside the union. The violent repression of the strike ended with a compromise (signed by the CGT without the presence of the strike committee), but had political consequences: the ejection of the Communist ministers from the government (other factors also contributed to this ejection: on the one hand, the beginning of the cold war and alignment on the politics of the USSR, and on the other hand, the first war in Vietnam). The end of the strike saw the exclusion of the CGT from those sections that had launched the strike, which had to create a new union, the Renault Democratic Union (SDR), led by a Trotskyist militant, Bois. The existence of this union was very ephemeral because it clashed with both the CGT and the management (the legal arrangement practically prohibited it from participating in any discussion in the factory).

A few years later, in 1954, some participated in the creation of a new opposition in the factory, which regrouped, under the impetus of a militant close to Socialisme ou Barbarie, Raymond (who still refused to participate in the group), and other militants in the factory, an anarchist, Pierrot, the Trotskyist Bois, and a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie, Mothé. It was in this way that the workers bulletin, Tribune Ouvrière, was launched. It was totally clandestine and disseminated secretly in the factory – the CGT’s presence was still so strong that it could oppose any attempt to organize outside its union control. The true facilitator of this nucleus was Gaspard, who did not content himself with ensuring the appearance and distribution of the bulletin, but was a true organizer of a real nucleus of nearly 50 workers in a collective approach that expanded beyond the union into a kind of collective life outside the factory (vacations, cultural trips, etc.). I can testify to this since, organizer of an opposition core at my company. I occasionally took part in these “activities.”

There were attempts to turn Tribune Ouvrière into the worker bulletin of Socialisme ou Barbarie; these discussions aimed to define the method of such a bulletin, which was intended to propagate the ideas of the group, rather than to promote a deeper understanding of the proletariat. After 1958, and the group’s split, such a paper appeared under the title Pouvoir Ouvrier. No longer a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie after this date, I can only refer to publications in order to maintain that the question of Workers’ Inquiry was never addressed in the group, and even more so that even the worker narratives disappeared [from the review] completely, the group being in large part composed of intellectuals and students, and no proletarians.

So... I think it's useful historically as a genuine workers paper within the factory, and as part of the history of the European councilist tendency that's underemphasised, how useful translating the content itself would be I don't know.