Friday, December 11, 2009

"The Gorbachev of the CGT"

Bernard Thibault has been re-elected to a 3-year term as head of the CGT. He is, according to Bernard Vivier, "the Gorbachev" of that trade-union confederation, once close to the Communist Party. Well, that might be a bit much. He hasn't torn down any walls or signed any strategic arms treaties, but he has, like Gorbachev, shown himself willing to negotiate with "the enemy." And like Gorbachev, the representative of what Reagan called "the Evil Empire" who became rather too chummy with "the Great Satan" for some of the generals back home, Thibault is not uncontested within his own bailiwick. Before being re-elected by a comfortable majority (a feat that eluded Gorbachev), he was booed for his alleged coziness with le pouvoir and in particular with Nicolas Sarkozy, with whom he seems to get on rather well.

I've never met Thibault, only seen him on TV. But I did meet one of his predecessors, Henri Krasucki, who came to Harvard once and told such thrilling tales of deportation, resistance, les 75,000 fusillés, et toute la ribambelle that one never got down to the brass tacks of union politics as practiced by the pre-Thibault CGT and whether le bilan était globalement positif or not. Which was probably just fine with M. Krasucki.

UPDATE: For Eric Dupin's analysis of the changes in the CGT under Thibault, see here.

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