French trade union leader calls for major action across Europe

by Roger Mckenzie at the Fete de l’Humanité


FRENCH trade union leader Philippe Martinez called on Saturday for a “mobilisation” of trade unions across Europe.

In an exclusive interview with Euractiv, the secretary-general of the CGT underlined the importance of co-ordinated mobilisation among workers across Europe.

CGT was founded in 1895 and is the largest of the five trade union centres in France, representing around 700,000 members.

Mr Martinez said that there needed to be a Europe-wide campaign for higher wages because for President Emmanuel Macron and the EU, it is “the market that comes first” and “social issues are secondary.”

In an echo of the moves in the UK for co-ordinated industrial action Mr Martinez called for “big European mobilisations and a unity of European trade unions.” But the form this mobilisation will take is still under discussion.

Even though inflation is lower in France than in other European countries, Mr Martinez warned: “France is one of the countries in Europe where the gap between inflation and real wage increases is the widest.”

He said: “There has been no real social dialogue” since the election of Mr Macron in 2017.

More generally, Mr Martinez is concerned that politicians, from both the right and the left, are disconnected from the world of work. “How many MPs have participated in a wage negotiation? Very few,” he says.

An agreement on a European minimum wage “was not unanimous among trade unions in Europe, because trade union practices and traditions are different,” explained Mr Martinez.