Belgium is often presented as a model country in terms of labour consultation, a model that is said to have found its balance in the 1960s. By studying the strikes at the Citroën factory in Forest (1969-1970), we are prompted to take a fresh look at the system of collective bargaining when it is confronted with conflicts that fall outside its framework: repressive practices by management, wildcat strikes by workers, activists around the factory, mistrust of union representatives, or a substantial presence of immigrant workers. This paper aims to investigate these neglected aspects of social dialogue by looking at the attitudes of new labour stakeholders (e.g., immigrant workers, students and revolutionary activists), the reactions of actors mobilised to resolve conflicts (e.g., the state, unions and employers) and those called upon to repress it (police). More than a single exception, the “Citroën case” reveals the limits of social dialogue and leads us to look more closely at this renewal of workers’ combativity in light of the post-68 situation in France.
The limits of the state
The strikes at Citroën-Forest (1969-1970)By Elie Teicher