Its origins lie in a tiny group called the Trotskyist Group founded in 1939 by David Korner (Barta). This developed factory work throughout the war and was instrumental in the Renault strike of 1947. The group was exhausted by this effort however and collapsed in 1952.
After various attempts to revive it Voix Ouvriere was founded in 1956 by Robert Barcia, better known as Hardy and the groups preminent leader, and Pierre Bois a leading militant in the renault plant. It would seem that some effort was made to involve Barta but disputes between him and Hardy and Bois prevented this from happening.
VO established itself through the 1960s by producing a series of factory bulletins on a regular, usually weekly, basis which were mass distributed. This activity could be dangerous as this was still a period when the Communist Party of France (PCF) retained its hegemonic position within the workers movement in france and they would at times make eforts to physically prevent the distribution by VO of its bulletins. In part this explains the continued use of a level of semi-clandestine operation within VO and in LO even today.
After being banned in 1968 this became Lutte Ouvriere.
While denouncing the undemocratic Communist regimes of the former Eastern Bloc, Lutte Ouvrière advocates the replacement of the current political and economic regime of France (and the World) through a Communist revolution. Nevertheless, it still fields candidates in political elections. Its main goal is public ownership of the means of production through the expropriation of the capitalist corporations.
For long, the internal organizations of the party were largely unknown to the general public, the spokeswoman and chronic presidential candidate Arlette Laguiller was the only party leader appearing in public. The actual historical leader of the party was Robert Barcia, also known as "Hardy" - even to party members, some leaders were known only code names. Such measures of secrecy were justified by the possibility that the party may have to go into hiding, should there be opportunities for a Communist revolution. For the same reason, marriages and children were discouraged. Lutte Ouvrière was thus often cricitized as being sectarian or akin to a cult.
An ongoing issue is the possibility and conditions of an electoral alliance with fellow trotskyist party Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire.