This comprehensive history of the French labor movement is notable for a number of reasons. It is a critical account of “unions in crisis” in a Democracy in crisis. It offers the only full description of the highly regulated collective bargaining system in France, and it shows why in France there are strikes against the Government as well as against private industry. It analyzes the Communist Party capture of the most influential labor combine—the General Federation of Labor—despite the fact that much of the rank and file do not concern themselves with political parties.
Val Lorwin gives his readers a good many reasons why the unfortunate situation which we know today has developed, and he provides a few indications as to how French labor may get out of the impasse into which it has slipped. He discusses the Government role in labor politics, and explains why French workers do not pay dues, and why poverty-stricken unions persist in striking. At the bottom of all French labor troubles, he points out, is the concept of class struggle; healthy, dynamic French economic growth will be achieved only when the labor unions adopt a more responsible position.