CGT Congress: the suspense remains over the succession of Philippe Martinez

CGT Congress: the suspense remains over the succession of Philippe Martinez

In 1999, when Louis Viannet handed over to Bernard Thibault at the head of the CGT, it was the latter who opened the congress. In 2013, his successor Thierry Lepaon did the same. But who will therefore open this Monday afternoon the 53rd congress of the confederation, during which Philippe Martinez will give way? On the eve of its start for a week in Clermont-Ferrand, the mystery remains unsolved. It alone sums up the suspense surrounding the election of the next secretary general of the central, scheduled for Friday.

Ten months ago, on May 31, 2022, at the same time as he announced his withdrawal, the former Renault technician, number one of the CGT since January 2015, launched the candidacy of Marie Buisson. He dubbed the secretary general of the Federation of Education, Research and Culture (FERC) via a majority vote of the executive committee of the CGT – the extended management of around fifty members. Playing the surprise, he intended to preempt the election and ensure the appointment of his runner-up.

Buisson failed to win

But nothing went as planned. The rebellion of the main federations of the trade union organization provoked several stormy meetings of the “parliament” of the CGT, its national confederal committee, which must elect Friday the new secretary general of the central, without Marie Buisson not managing to impose herself. .

The dispute relates to the method, that is to say the legitimacy of the outgoing number one to impose his or her successor, as Philippe Martinez wants. It also relates more generally to the functioning of the confederal management and democracy in the organization. For its detractors, it is symbolized by the alliance concluded with Greenpeace, controversial internally and managed by Marie Buisson. This alliance is particularly frowned upon by the industrial sectors, and not just the energy sector, which were not involved in the discussions, although this is a subject touching on the very line of the confederation.

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Logic of confrontation

Instead of playing the gathering card, distancing herself from the relatives of Philippe Martinez, who are in a logic of confrontation and settling of scores, the teacher left them the hand. They thus launched a campaign with petitions on the fact that part of the organization would refuse to elect a woman at its head.

The argument worked against Sébastien Ménesplier, the number one Energy company whose name has been around for a while. But it is no longer valid from the moment the alternative candidacy of Céline Verzeletti, member of the confederal office of the CGT since 2015, emerges.

From now on, it is the question of the line which is put forward. The steelworker does not beat around the bush: he thinks that the CGT could “go back thirty or forty years”, that is to say at the time of the transmission belt with the Communist Party.

Nothing is decidedly simple

Céline Verzeletti does indeed belong to the PCF but without being an active militant, unlike other leaders of the union. At the same time, she called for demonstrations with LFI when Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s party tried to mobilize in the street. Marie Buisson passed the LCR, which became the NPA. As for Olivier Mateu, the secretary of the Departmental Union of Bouches-du-Rhône carried by the ultras, he is happy to appear in Marseille demonstrations with Jean-Luc Mélenchon. He also asserts himself as a candidate but the statutes block him, at least for the moment.

Nothing is decidedly simple at the CGT. The reality is that the days of an organic link to a political organization are over. As shown by the way Philippe Martinez sent Jean-Luc Mélenchon back into his goals without causing a shoot-off.

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Nothing is therefore played in this election. On the pro-Buisson side, we always want to believe in victory. But it seems that the situation has become more complicated in recent days, because many organizations have given their representatives not a mandate on this or that, but an open mandate. The congress will be decisive and the debates which start on Tuesday promise to be tough.

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