Sophie Binet, 41, is a former member of the student union Unef and the PS and former senior guidance counsellor (CPE). She had been at the head of UGICT since 2018.

The new leadership team -- secretary-general, administrator and executive board -- is expected to be presented to delegates this Friday, ahead of a press conference scheduled for noon.

This will be an opportunity for Ms. Binet to say if she wants the CGT to participate in the meeting scheduled for next week between the inter-union and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, in Matignon.

Coming from the Confederal Executive Committee, the extended leadership of the CGT, Sophie Binet was referent of the collective women diversity and committed to environmental issues and gender equality.

This election comes at the end of a night of negotiations during which neither of the two candidates hitherto approached, Marie Buisson, the dauphine of outgoing Secretary General Philippe Martinez, and Céline Verzeletti, failed to reach a consensus on their names.

It closes a week of stormy congresses, reflecting 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 Confederal Executive Commission (CEC), the extended leadership of the CGT, began its work around 23 p.m. on Thursday. Marie Buisson 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 and thought about a solution around Céline Verzeletti, without reaching an agreement.

A "third way" then emerged, around Ms. Binet, whose name had been mentioned in recent months, but without appearing as a solid option.

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 "Never Again" 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. Management had taken care to round the corners on the most divisive aspects of the document.

On Thursday evening, an "appeal" was voted, 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