CGT: Marie Buisson struggles to win to replace Philippe Martinez

Posted Jan 26, 2023, 9:00 AM

She slowly begins to express herself in the media. This Wednesday, Marie Buisson was invited to the Journal de 13 heures de France Inter. But the candidate knighted by Philippe Martinez in June to succeed him at the head of the CGT still does not succeed in imposing itself within the confederation. The more time passes, the more it appears weakened when there are only two months left before the CGT congress where the future number one of the second French union will be designated, at the end of March in Clermont-Ferrand.

This internal battle is not reflected in the conflict against the pension reform which, on the contrary, brings the organization together. If at the start, the ultras began to denounce the “leapfrog” days (mobilization days too far apart), the extent of the success of January 19 has made people aware of the interest of the unitary approach and it is with caution that calls for other strike days are launched.

An increasingly contested choice

The candidacy of Marie Buisson does not fracture the CGT less. The choice of Philippe Martinez is increasingly contested. Latest episode: the meeting which took place between 23 of the 33 federations of the central, on January 24 in the evening. The discussions were long – no less than 4.5 hours – and intense. Metallurgy, from which Philippe Martinez comes, left the meeting before the end. This resulted in the decision to write a joint letter to the confederal management. It should essentially ask for a debate on the composition of the future management of the central and its functioning during the meeting of the National Confederal Committee (CCN) composed of federal and departmental leaders on 1er and February 2.

The number of signatures at the bottom of this letter being written, the tone of which will be “soft”, in the words of a CGT member, will obviously count a lot. But behind this letter, what is looming, in the event of a reiteration by Philippe Martinez of the refusal already expressed on the subject in November, is the request for an extraordinary meeting of the CCN which would again raise the tension a notch.

“Straight in His Boots”

The attitude of Marie Buisson during a first meeting of the federations on January 10 and then her absence on Tuesday 24 contributed to raising the temperature. Attacked on the line that she defends of an alliance with in particular Greenpeace in the collective “Never again”, she did not play the card of the rally by recognizing the need for an internal debate. On the contrary, she appeared “straight in her boots”, according to the expression of one participant, even leaving the meeting without warning before the end.

Panic or amateurism? An initiative of his supporters added to it. Two declarations, a first signed only by women (some 178) then a second signed by men (153, of whom 4 disputed their presence on the list) were released a week ago. Supposed to come from the base, they were actually written by Philippe Martinez’s direct entourage: his chief of staff, Elsa Conseil, author of the “feminine” text, not elected, and David Dugué author of the male text, the administrator of the CGT on the departure.


It also appears, counted “Les Echos”, that 30% of the signatories of these texts come from the small National Education Federation (FERC) headed by Marie Buisson, that only a small handful of leaders of the central has signed and that no emblematic woman or man of the power station appears there. The very content of the addresses fueled anger. Thus that of women “denounces [e] that in 2023 within the CGT, a woman must still have to demonstrate that she is ‘capable’ of having ideas, of giving impetus, of leading”. “The instrumentalization of just demands concerning women harms their struggle,” replied Energy activist Marie-Claire Cailletaux, in writing, summing up the general feeling quite well. Supporters of Marie Buisson have emerged as the dividers in a union that hates it.

Olivier Mateu and Sebastien Menesplier

For the time being, however, only one candidate has declared himself for the position of number one of the CGT and it is not guaranteed by statute to present himself. This is the secretary general of the Departmental Union of Bouches du Rhône, Olivier Mateu.

This ultra does not constitute a danger for Marie Buisson as her positions act as a foil. But it is not impossible that his presence paves the way for a third rally candidacy. The name of Sébastien Menesplier comes up insistently, but he is not yet in the running.

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