Sophie Binet is the general secretary of UGICT, the CGT executives' union.

The new leadership team -- secretary-general, administrator and executive board -- is expected to be presented to delegates at 10:00 a.m., according to the congressional program.

The Confederal Executive Commission (CEC), the CGT's extended leadership, began meeting around 23 p.m. on Thursday.

According to concordant sources, Marie Buisson, candidate of the outgoing leadership, has put on the table a proposal for a management team, with herself as secretary general. But this proposal was rejected by the National Confederal Committee, the party's parliament.

The 66 members of the CEC met again. They have thought about a solution around Celine Verzeletti, another candidate, without reaching an agreement, according to concordant sources.

A "third way" then emerged, around the secretary general of the UGICT (federation of executives), Sophie Binet. "But it's complicated and not yet voted" by the CCN, a source told AFP.

This coup de théâtre comes after a week of stormy congresses, in the middle of the battle against the pension reform and a few days before a meeting of the inter-union in Matignon, an invitation proposed by Elisabeth Borne.

The tensions surrounding the succession of Philippe Martinez show the deep fractures of the CGT and the mistrust of many organizations vis-à-vis the outgoing leadership, first and foremost several powerful industrial federations (railway workers, energy, chemicals).

The Congress had started in a tense atmosphere on Monday, with about twenty members of the trade federation forcibly entering the debate room to protest the fact that they could not sit there.

'Pressure, threats'

On Tuesday, the congressmen rejected the activity report of the outgoing leadership (50.32% of the votes against), an unprecedented event in the history of the CGT and a major disavowal for Philippe Martinez and his dauphine.

Member of the Bureau of the Congress, Géraldine Madounari was moved Wednesday at the rostrum: "Walking in the alleys leads to see and hear the worst of humanity. Pressure, threats, biased votes," she said.

Philippe Martinez, the outgoing general secretary of the CGT, at a demonstration against the pension reform, Clermont-Ferrand, March 28, 2023 © Jeff PACHOUD / AFP / Archives

The debates on the policy document have shown the disagreements between the cégetistes on the links of the CGT with the unions close to it (FSU and Solidaires), on ecology or on international issues --some still demand that the CGT join the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) that it left in 1995.

A particularly acute point of tension is the question of the CGT's membership of the Plus jamais ça collective, which the CGT co-founded in March 2020 with NGOs and associations, including Greenpeace and Oxfam, and where Marie Buisson represented the CGT.

On Thursday evening, a vote in the direction of an exit of the CGT from this collective sounded like an alarm signal for the outgoing leadership.

In the end, the orientation document was adopted with 72.79%, a score higher than that of the Dijon congress in 2019, according to Laurent Indrusiak, of the commission of the orientation document.

As a sign of appeasement, the management had taken care to round the corners on the most divisive aspects of the text, removing for example the mention of FSU and Solidaires in the paragraph on "the unification of trade unionism", and that of "Never again" in another paragraph on the collectives in which the CGT participates.

On Thursday evening, an "appeal" was signed, in which the CGT again demanded the "pure and simple withdrawal" of the pension reform. "There will be neither mediation nor compromise," says the text, distancing itself from the idea of "mediation" carried by the inter-union and approved by Philippe Martinez on Tuesday.

© 2023 AFP