The 53rd Congress of the CGT will take place from March 27 to 31, and it will designate the replacement of Philippe Martinez at the head of the union. If she has not yet officially declared herself a candidate, Céline Verzeletti could well succeed her.
The 53rd CGT Congress will be held from Monday March 27 to Friday March 31 in Clermont-Ferrand. After eight years at the head of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, the very media-savvy secretary general of the trade union organization, will leave his post. Behind the battle currently waged by the union against the pension reform, is therefore playing out another battle for the succession of Philippe Martinez. In May 2022, the current boss of the CGT had proposed, before the Confederal Executive Commission of the CGT, that Marie Buisson, at the head of the FERC-CGT (Federation of Education, Research and Culture) since 2017, succeeds him, as RTL reminds us. This vocational high school teacher in letters-history-geography is particularly committed to issues related to gender equality and the climate crisis. However, Marie Buisson's positions on environmental issues are viewed with a dim view by several CGT federations, in particular that of energy.
In this context, another woman could replace Philippe Martinez: Céline Verzeletti, co-secretary general of the UFSE-CGT (Federal Union of State Trade Unions) and member of the confederal bureau of the CGT. In the "record of discussions" of a meeting which took place on March 1 between different federations of the CGT, relayed by AFP, we can thus read: "The name of Céline Verzeletti was proposed during our meetings. It seems to bring together the conditions for a broad agreement, a gathering of all the organizations of the CGT, and the possibility of collective work within a solid confederal office and an enlarged confederal executive committee, collectively constructed. Statements reported by BFMTV.
If she has still not publicly declared that she is a candidate to succeed Philippe Martinez, Céline Verzeletti nevertheless indicated, in an article in the media AEF Info published on March 8, that "organizations think that I would allow a better gathering" than Marie Buisson at the head of the CGT. What suggest that she will be a good candidate to succeed Philippe Martinez. The name of the union's next general secretary will be known following a vote by the national confederal committee (CCN) of the CGT during the union's 53rd Congress. As the Opinion reminds us, the CCN brings together the federations and departmental unions of the CGT, and each has one vote. To be elected, it is necessary to collect about sixty votes.
Céline Verzeletti was born on February 7, 1969 in Le Havre, as reported by the regional daily Paris-Normandy. Aged 54, she is currently co-secretary general of the UFSE-CGT (Federal Union of State Trade Unions), which brings together around 50,000 employees, and a member of the confederal bureau of the CGT since 2015. In this office, she deals with Equality, Trade Union Freedoms and Coordination of struggles.
Born to a train driver and CGT militant father, and a schoolteacher mother, she joined the CGT at the age of 20, seeking support as she set out to attack the Prud' men a cleaning company where she worked in a precarious way, as indicated by Radio France. She has also worked in the restaurant industry, the Opinion says. Céline Verzeletti also passed the prison administration competition to become a prison guard, working in the penitentiary establishments of Baumettes in Marseille, Versailles and Health in Paris. It is by exercising this profession that she became general secretary of the CGT Penitentiary from 2003, as L'Express recalls. A position she held until 2012.
Unlike Marie Buisson, candidate dubbed by Philippe Martinez who tenses up certain federations of the CGT due in particular to her environmental positions, Céline Verzeletti seems to bring together the different federations of the trade union organization more. She told AFP that she wanted "the unions to reclaim this organization". Because beyond the election of a new secretary general, the mode of operation of the leading organizations of the CGT is one of the other major issues of this 53rd Congress of the union.
Some branches of the CGT believe that Philippe Martinez directs these bodies in a way that is too undemocratic. "We need to change the modes of operation, that the secretary general does not have so much power, to depersonalize things (...) If I can serve for a kind of transition which will have made it possible to bring together , it's very good", also told AFP Céline Verzeletti, whose remarks were relayed by BFMTV. "He is someone who believes in democratic control and collective debate," said one of his supporters, quoted anonymously by Paris Normandie. The regional daily also indicates that Céline Verzeletti is still a member of the French Communist Party and that she is in favor of a closer link between trade unions and political organisations.