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FRANCE: The 53rd Congress of the CGT, Elements of Analysis and Prospects

As the 53rd Congress closes, we put some elements of analysis into the adversarial debate. Never before has CGT Unit entered into a debate about people at the expense of the political choices they and embody, as well as the vision of trade unionism that they defend. We therefore regret that all those who took part in the debate did not have the same consequence and denounce those who are in vain off from the violence of the debates that they and that they did everything possible to stifle.

What should be taken from Congress after the election of the Confederal Executive Commission, the Confederal Bureau and Sophie Binet as SG of the CGT Confederation?

1/ Olivier Mateu, SG of UD CGT 13 and Emmanuel Lépine, SG of the FNIC CGT are dismissed by manoeuvres of another age of the Confederal leadership: a disastrous message for the entire working class in struggle.

2/ Despite the questioning of the outgoing leadership by Congress and the rejection by Congress of several ultra-nocive elements (directional balance and the collective never before in particular), we have witnessed a palace revolution at the head of the confederal leadership, in short, “everything to change to ensure that nothing changes”

3/ The CGT is divided from this Congress. Real unity will be through the guidelines and the political fund. UnitéCGT will take its full place in this battle of ideas.

4/ If there are no primaries at the CGT, the manoeuvres to prevent, among others, Olivier Mateu, SG of the UD CGT 13, and Emmanuel Lépine, SG of FNIC CGT from joining the confederal leadership of the CGT will have revealed the progress of class and mass trade unionism in the CGT.

More than 205,000 votes (carried by delegates to Congress) were counted as union members in favour of adding the names of Olivier Mateu, Emmanuel Lépine or Stéphane Debon (for the CNTPEP) to the list of members of the Commission for the Executive Confederal (CEC).

Insufficient to unlock the foreclosure of the list, these “out-of-standard” scores translate not a fractured CGT into “block,” but the vigour and growing force of revolutionary sensitivity across the CGT that represents a very large third of congressional delegates, and thus, arguably much more throughout the organization.

From the outset, we have, more than people, highlighted the battle of ideas, including through the Contribution to Debates, the competition to the film “For a CGT that meets the stakes”, or participation in militant debates held in more than a dozen cities. These ideas, which were embodied during this Congress, particularly on the candidacy of Olivier Mateu, have progressed. A quick glance in the mirror confirms this.

Some elements of analysis:

The 53rd Congress of the CGT rejected the outgoing management’s activity report. Through this vote, the majority of congressmen have refused to validate the balance sheet of recent years and, more generally, the acceleration of the CGT’s refocusing since the 1990s.

Such a decision is historic and proves that the widening gap between the trade union bases and the confederation was indeed a reality. Among the many interventions that embodied this desire to break with a vertical and authoritarian method, that of Murielle Morand of the Federation of Chemical Industries addressing himself directly to Philippe Martinez to ask him who had given him a mandate to speak mediation while “the workers are on the street”. What has been rejected is, on the one hand, the reformist drift of the Confederal leadership and the bureaucratic foreclosure that goes hand in hand.

The Congress thus, in fact, reaffirmed that the confederal tool belongs first, first and foremost to the trade unions, to their union members and union members, that this is a built tool for the struggle and not to comment – as an external observer with a communiqué – social struggles. The Confederal tool is the key to the convergence of anger and the confederalization of all the struggles of all professional sectors.

The decision to leave the collective No. Never again, accompanied by virulent criticism, both in substance and form, has also proved to be in favour of those who have always been in opposition to the Collective never again, since Congress has clearly expressed and its rejection of the collective never again and its demand for respect for trade union democracy.

A second time on the trade union recomposition. Here again, the delegates have won a clarification in the committee and in the debates in the Chamber on this strategy. As it stands, since discussions with other trade union organisations, notably the FSU and Solidaires, are not discussed in the trade unions, this recomposition will not take place.

Through its deliberations, this unprecedented and historic congress showed that the majority of CGT trade unions sent delegates who thwarted the projects and orientations of the outgoing management. However, substantive – strategic – questions for our organisation have not been addressed.

While some would like to believe that the vote on the policy document has erased the rejection of the guidance document, the delegates have taken a position against these choice of such structuring orientation for the activity of the CGT.

It is also essential to recall that a minority of amendments has been defended, and it is regrettable that those concerning the new status of the wage-earner have not been sufficiently discussed, whereas this is at the heart of the reformist refocusing of the CGT. Another major issue was not discussed: the place of private individuals in the CGT, the place of the National Committee of Private and Insecure Workers (CNTPEP) as a fully recognized sovereign organization within the CGT.

Similarly, delegates have repeatedly expressed the desire for all trade unions to address issues related to international relations, in particular the WSF/CSI-CES debate, with a view to the 54th Congress. The next confederal directorate must promote the necessary conditions for this debate to take place in the organisation.

The rejection of the activity report should have led to this discussion, which is essential in view of the democratic values of our trade union organisation.

What now?

The NCC fought against the outgoing CEC and even imposed itself on the newly elected EQF. While it is obvious that the choices expressed by the majority of congressmen have favoured this rebalancing between the CEC and the CCN, it will be hoped that this time of the congress will not be just a parenthesis but the beginning of a willingness to make a common effort in the CGT.

The Confederal Bureau will be observed. Despite a plebiscite of delegates to thwart the maneuvers of the outgoing management, the leaders of the UD CGT 13 and the FNIC CGT were excluded from the Confederal leadership. The 205 000 votes cast on the candidacies of Olivier Mateu and Emmanuel Lépine (36% of the votes of the congressmen) proved that our ideas, which are embodied in offensive CGT trade unionism, of class and mass, largely prevail, if not for the most part, in the CGT. Under these conditions, gathering cannot be a hollow incantation, we must be willing to. This unit therefore presupposes strong actions of the new leadership.

The desire, reaffirmed by the delegates, to return to a CGT class and mass trade unionism, assuming its revolutionary scope, must be reflected in the confederalized construction of the struggles, starting with that of pensions, in the establishment of national campaigns for the defence and reconquest of the industrial, defence and development of public services, for the defence and extension of social and trade union rights, in particular those guaranteed by the Social Security.

This will must also be illustrated by the articulation of all our demands with the necessary revolutionary break with the capitalist society that condemns the future of the human race. Only the abolition of wage-earners and employers, through the socialization of the great means of production and exchange, will make it possible to reconcile humanity and its environment.

Where there is a will there is a path, we must still have the will to find it. It should also be remembered that many fundamental points have not been addressed and therefore decided by Congress. Here again, the battle of ideas will have to continue. UnitCGT responds and will respond to present.

CGT Unit

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