France's hard-left CGT union elects first woman leader - sources

  • World
  • Friday, 31 Mar 2023

PARIS (Reuters) - France's hard-left CGT union has elected its first woman leader, two CGT sources told Reuters on Friday.

Sophie Binet, 41, was elected secretary-general as a surprise compromise candidate after a long night of deliberations, coming ahead of Marie Buisson, who was backed by outgoing leader Philippe Martinez, and Celine Verzeletti, who was supported by a more hardline faction of the union.

The CGT press service said it could not confirm Binet's election as long as its members had not been informed.

Binet, a former school supervisor, is the head of CGT's UGICT division representing engineers, managers and technical staff and was responsible for equality issues in the union's executive committee.

She takes charge as France's unions are in a months-long standoff with President Emmanuel Macron over pension reform.

The CGT, France's second-largest union, has formed a united front with the more moderate CFDT - the first time in years - to block the government's planned increase of the retirement age by two years to 64. Since January, the unions have organised several nationwide days of strikes and demonstrations that have been attended by millions of people.

The unions have been invited by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne for talks early next week, but so far the CGT has not said whether it will attend. The unions have said they do not want to discuss other labour issues with the government if Macron does not withdraw the pension reform.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Sharon Singleton)

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