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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Documentary Screening: The Strike of Undocumented Workers in France

I highly recommend this documentary, put together to showcase something unheard of in the US, a movement of undocumented workers not only striking for wages but for their papers. How does it transpire? Find out on June 11 at CUNY's Murphy Institute!

Coming for a Visit

A documentary film by Lucie Tourette

France, 2013, 54 min.
Presented by Emilien Julliard (EHESS, France. Visiting student at CUNY)

June 11. 6:15pm.
Joseph S. Murphy Institute
25W 43rd St
18th floor. Room 18D

Paris, 2009. More than 6000 undocumented migrants (sans-papiers) go on strike to demand their legalization. Despite having no papers, Mohamed, Diallo, Hamet and others have worked and paid taxes in France for years in restaurants, cleaning companies, or construction. They have invested all their energy in this battle: now that their status has been disclosed publicly, there is no way back.

Their employers are at the center of the conflict. French law requires their prior agreement for any legalization, and sans-papiers workers must find a way to obtain it. But their employers know that undocumented migrants will not accept the same working conditions once they have secured legal status. Some temp agency managers say it without joking in the film: they lack labor that is “ready to do anything”.

Company occupations are as playful as they are risky. Action after action, workers gain confidence in their struggles. As undocumented migrants, they constantly risk being arrested. Yet as workers they have the right to strike and occupy their work site. Assisted by unionists, over the months they learn to negotiate with canny employers and obtain from them what previously seemed out of reach.

For the first time, a camera had unrestricted access to the daily life of the strike during several months. Striker meetings, negotiations with employers, discussions with the police: Coming for a Visit tightly follows the courage, occasional hopelessness, conflicts and camaraderie of sans-papiers who learned how to strike by doing it.

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