From our special correspondent
Until the end of the night… and beyond. It took almost 9 a.m., Friday, March 31, for the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) to find a general secretary, the first in the history of the union. But, against all odds and despite a night of discussions, neither Marie Buisson, approached for a year by Philippe Martinez to succeed him, nor her competitor Céline Verzeletti were able to win the votes of the national confederal committee (CCN). During the night, this “parliament” of the CGT, which brings together the numbers one of the federations and departmental unions, will have several times rejected the proposals of the executive commission, the “government”, elected Thursday evening by the congress.
Marie Buisson, whom Philippe Martinez had wanted to impose to take over, was initially rejected. With two votes, according to Les Échos. But her competitor Céline Verzeletti, who presented herself on a more radical line, did not succeed either in embodying the necessary unity for a CGT whose congress debates underlined the friction between the supporters of revolutionary trade unionism and the partisans open collaboration with other organizations.
It was finally Sophie Binet, secretary general of the General Union of Engineers, Executives and Technicians (Ugict), the CGT of executives, who was proposed at the very beginning of the morning, before being approved by the CCN. She thus becomes the first woman at the head of the CGT in one hundred and twenty-eight years.
“Gather and fight! “Launched at the entrance to the Grande Halle d’Auvergne an activist to the new general secretary. “That’s exactly it,” she replied, aware of the challenge facing her: to bring together a CGT whose often lively exchanges at the congress have brought to light the divisions, while continuing the fight against the pension reform.
For this, Sophie Binet has a long experience behind her, which began in 2006 when, a philosophy student in Nantes and at the national office of the student union Unef – after having passed through the Christian Workers’ Youth (JOC) -, she is one of the figures of the fight against the first employment contract (CPE), which forced Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin to suspend the application of the law. A first in France.
If several other figures of the anti-CPE movement engage in politics (Bruno Julliard at the Socialist Party then at the town hall of Paris, or Sacha Houlié and Stéphane Séjourné, at the same PS before joining Emmanuel Macron), Sophie Binet will get involved, she, in the union fight. “Unlike politics, which tends to seek providential men, what counts in the trade union world is not so much to be a tribune as the ability to lead struggles,” she explained a few weeks ago. at La Croix.
Education advisor at Blanc-Mesnil (Seine-Saint-Denis) then in Marseille, she became deputy general secretary of Ugict, before entering the confederal office of the CGT in 2013. She is one of those who oppose to the secretary general Thierry Lepaon, accused of embezzlement, and who will have to resign.
Shelved from the next office, she remains in the executive committee, where she is responsible for gender equality. At the head of Ugict since 2018, she is also involved in the protection of whistleblowers and against pension reform, while embodying a discreet and moderate opposition to the line of Philippe Martinez. It is this positioning, more central within the confederation, which has undoubtedly enabled it to bring together more widely, even if it comes from the union of executives, another first in a trade union organization that is still very working-class.
“The CGT has always been an organization of struggle and negotiation,” she told the press. Even if, at the moment, the news is the fight: as long as the pension reform has not been withdrawn, there will be no negotiation. “During its congress, the CGT also reaffirmed by a motion its desire for a “pure and simple withdrawal of this reform”. The secretary general has nevertheless confirmed that she will be, Wednesday, April 5, with the rest of the inter-union at Matignon to meet Elisabeth Borne. “We will demand the withdrawal of the reform, she insisted. We are united on this. And as long as we don’t deal with this question, we won’t talk about anything else. »