Cotton at FEETS-FO
Steve Cotton addresses FEETS-FO congress

French unions gear up for future threats

The ITF addressed the congress of the French union federation the FEETS-FO to bolster the determination of activists to strengthen their unions in the face of national and global threats to workers.

A record 300 delegates from across France participated in the 11th congress of the Federation of Equipment, Environment, Transport and Services FORCE OUVRIERE (FEETS-FO) from January 31 to February 2. FEETS-FO represents both public and private sector employees, who face common attacks on workplace rights.

The participants had come together to discuss how unions could become stronger to tackle the democratic crisis in many countries and to fight against liberalisation and deregulation, social dumping and flags of convenience in the air and at sea. The activists agreed that in order to remain independent, it was important for the trade union movement to become stronger by increasing its membership and presence.

They cited as examples of what unions were up against on the domestic front the controversial labour laws introduced in France in 2016 and Air France’s efforts to drive through a restructuring plan involving 2,900 redundancies by 2017.

Jean Hedou, general secretary of FEETS-FO, said: "This congress was a highlight for our brothers and sisters who are more than ever mobilized. The interventions of our brothers of ITF and ETF showed that they were not alone and that solidarity with the other workers all over the world is real. All together, we will succeed in our fights."

Steve Cotton, ITF general secretary, and Eduardo Chagas, general secretary of the ITF’s European arm the ETF, delivered motivating messages to the Force Ouvriere activists. Confederation FO secretary general Jean-Claude Mailly and several federation secretaries and union secretaries also attended.

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