EPSU stands with French unions against the government’s repression

(8 September 2023) After the persecution of several FNME-CGT trade union leaders, including the General Secretary Sebastien Menesplier, CGT and other French unions gathered in front of Montmorency gendarmerie, where Menesplier was summoned, on 6 September. EPSU was there to stand together with French trade unionists.

Menesplier was summoned to a free hearing due to his trade union activities, such as organising and participating in the demonstrations against Macron’s pension reform. The investigation was initiated after a power cut on 7 March in Annonay, where Minister of Labour Olivier Dussopt resides. While he was questioned inside the gendarmerie facility, hundreds of CGT militants were gathered in front of the building to support him. In her speech, CGT General Secretary Sophie Binet says their democracy is in danger. She notes that so far 400 CGT members have been summoned, and by doing so, the government is targeting CGT. Sebastien Menesplier, the General Secretary of the National Federation of Mines and Energy – FNME/CGT, noted that none of the energy companies are being questioned due to energy cuts. He says, “The real violence is leaving poor people without heating in winter by cutting their electricity since they cannot afford the bills.”

FNME’s European federation EPSU did not leave them alone. Françoise Geng, the vice-president of EPSU, made a speech and highlighted that at the same time as the demonstration in Montmorency, EPSU and IndustriALL Europe jointly organised a solidarity action in front of the French Embassy in Brussels, demanding to stop the persecution of trade unionists in France. Geng says EPSU will continue to stand together with the French unions. After the speeches, Menesplier attended the free hearing, where he was questioned. After two and a half hours, he was released.

In solidarity, EPSU and IndustriALL Europe organised a campaign with letters to the minister, letters and support actions from unions across Europe, and actions outside the French embassies in several cities. In Brussels, trade union activists gathered in front of the French embassy to show their solidarity with French comrades. Speakers included Judith Kirton-Darling (Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe), Jan Willem Goudriaan (General Secretary of EPSU), Thierry Bodson (President of the FGTB), Lahoucine Ourhribel (METEA-CSC) and Romain Fronek (FNME-CGT) and Isabelle Schomann (Deputy General Secretary of ETUC).