• Like its anthem "We are the CGT", which has become very popular on social networks, the General Confederation of Workers seems to be experiencing a resurgence of popularity among the active, especially among the youngest, but also among students and even high school students.
  • A new youth for the union after years decked out with a "cheesy" image now worn out for the new generations of demonstrators who see in the union an organization able to carry their fights.
  • According to those concerned, the visibility of the organization, in the demonstrations as in the media, and the charisma of their leader, Philippe Martinez are for much in this new success.

From our journalists in Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Paris,

It's hard to miss them. At the head of the procession, they are the ones who set the mood on the Old Port of Marseille. Standing on a van, disguised as carrots or superman, the militants of the CGT Energie des Bouches-du-Rhône delight the young demonstrators who follow them. The playlist has a lot to do with it: without cutting the traditional international, the speakers spit out the favorite hits of young Marseilles, which range from the very danceable En feu by Soprano to the Corsican unifying La Goffa Lolita.

And what about the anthem "We are the CGT", sung in demonstration and become ultra-popular on youth networks like TikTok? Sign that something needs to change on the side of the confederation: "We feel that, again, the CGT has regained strength," says Françoise, who celebrates her 31st birthday under the red banner at the local union of La Rose. The renewed mobilization at the call of the trade unions also holds a lot on the subject according to these activists accustomed to social conflicts "Pensions is a subject that is quite promising because it affects everyone," analyzes Lionel Arbiol, CGT delegate at the Esso refinery in Fos-sur-Mer. "The CGT has always been in the battles and given an impetus," abounds Noël, another long-time union representative on the port of Marseille. But here, we feel something new. Even those who usually did not strike thinking it was dead are mobilizing with us. »

No more image of "sausage cookers" and thank you "Fifi"

In the Parisian procession, Stéphanie Lepera, 40, firefighter at SDIS 91 and unionized at the confederation makes the same observation: "It's over this cheesy image of "sausage cookers". Since the announcement of the reform, registrations have been en masse. Even executives are getting into it, as evidenced by Christian, an engineer in a research firm in Hauts-de-Seine: "It's a small company, 80% of whom are executives, and we have recorded ten members over the last three weeks. A success that is reflected in particular by a craze among the youngest like Lénaïg and Grégoire, respectively 20 and 21 years old: "Many of us have a political and social conscience and the CGT is the union that makes the most noise. And then there's Fifi! An affectionate nickname given to Philippe Martinez, Secretary General of the confederation. The man who will leave his seat at the end of the month is a certain charm asset for young people: "He has a lot of charisma, he fights by always remaining very calm, clear but firm, he makes you want to follow him," says Solveig, a student in the procession, while a cabinet spits Rage against the machine in front of the Cirque d'Hiver.

If he does not follow all the trends of young people, Cédric Caubère, the departmental secretary of the CGT 31, present at the demonstration in Toulouse, has noted "a package of memberships". Just this Thursday, before the procession started in Toulouse, a comrade asked him for "10 cards". In Occitania, since the beginning of the mobilization, "53% of the hundreds of new members are women and 35% are under 35 years old". Among these young newcomers, there is Clément, 29 years old, two days of card and already a red flag in hand, behind the white truck of the CGT that sends Iron Maiden. "I don't know if it's a trend, but I have plenty of other friends who will also do it to defend our profession," explains the extracurricular facilitator.

"These are the ones we see the most when we arrive at a demonstration"

Philippe is part of the brand new CGT 31 Union of Students, High School Students and Apprentices. A movement that informs its members via Instagram. Does he feel like he's dusting off the old trade union centre? He remains modest: "We are here to learn and take the experience of the elders, and to help with our own means." Jean-Philippe, a CGT public transport activist who doesn't even have Facebook, finds that the old ones are still more effective than the young at blocking bus depots. But "on information and instant mobilization", he bows, Wednesday, in the middle of the round on the annual salary negotiations at Tisséo, "everyone was able to follow live the meeting, our demands and the responses of the management. It was the first time," admits the seasoned trade unionist.

A first also in Lyon for Victor, 16, who caught a red flag flocked "CGT 69" to parade proudly in the capital of Gaul. "These are the ones we see the most when we arrive at a demonstration," he justifies before specifying that he does not know which union to choose once employed. Emma knows. Dressed in a CGT bib, this 18-year-old woman claims to have "the vest in her skin". "My mother was unionized for years, it's like a parental legacy. For me, it is the CGT that best represents all workers," she says confidently. It is not João Perreira Afonso, secretary general of the Rhône Departmental Union who will say the opposite. He also notes that "more and more people are joining the processions during calls to demonstrate".

More and more memberships for all unions

And the ranks of the union are swelling with it. "Since the beginning of the mobilization against the pension reform, our standards have exploded," he says. In a few weeks, there was an increase from 12,000 to 14,000 in applications for membership at the national level. An observation shared by Force Ouvrière 69. Frédéric Volle, a member of the board, also notes "between 50 and 100 new memberships per week". "We have many requests from all trades. We feel we need to organize collectively," he admits. This is "unprecedented" for these leaders who point out that, "for the first time in ten years, all unions have united". "The most important thing in the movement is union unity," says Agnès, 63, who is not unionized but "a protester from the beginning."

A success that does not provoke the jealousy of other organizations, as Arthur*, departmental delegate CFTC, explains, looking at some young people wearing CGT stickers on a sidewalk in Paris: "It shows above all that young people are interested in their future, and if it works for the shop opposite, it will reflect on the other unions. "

*First name has been changed

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