Sophie Binet, national secretary of the CGT: “The far right has prospered on the ashes of neo-liberal policies”

Sophie Binet, national secretary of the CGT: “The far right has prospered on the ashes of neo-liberal policies”

Sophie Binet fait partie des têtes d'affiche de cette marche pour les libertés et contre les idées de l'extrême-droite, ce mardi à Béziers. Archive A. B. – ALEXIS BETHUNE

General secretary of the CGT since March 2023, the trade unionist will be present this Tuesday, April 23, in Béziers, alongside other national and regional representatives of the CFDT, FSU, Solidaires and Unsa to a big march for freedoms and against far-right ideas.

An activist from her youngest years, principal education advisor (CPE) in vocational high school for six years, Sophie Binet was elected general secretary of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) on March 31, 2023, with 82% of the voice. While the European elections are approaching and the RN is credited with more than 30% of voting intentions, the inter-union, which brings together the CFDT, the FSU, Solidaires and l& #39;Unsa, with the support of political parties and associations, is sounding the alarm on the dangers of the extreme right. She is organizing this Tuesday, April 23, at 2 p.m., in Béziers, from the Labor Exchange, "a march for freedoms and against the ideas of the extreme right".& ;nbsp;Interview.

Why this mobilization "for freedoms and against the ideas of the extreme right" ? And why Béziers ?

We are very worried about the continued rise of the extreme right, which is today at the gates of power. Which is quite unprecedented (under the Fifth Republic). However, it is not for lack of having sounded the alarm for years, because the CGT has always been constant on this issue: #39;extreme right cannot be considered a party like the others. But as much as the trade union organizations are clear, we are increasingly alone because Emmanuel Macron has chosen to normalize the National Rally.

There was a glass ceiling with the Republican front, which the President shattered. The situation is very serious because the extreme right has not changed its nature of calling into question freedoms and completely breaking with the foundations of our republican principles. And what's more, she lies to the workers since, to get elected, she tries to present herself as their defender.

Except that, whether at national or European level, she does not vote for the improvement of their working conditions and systematically opposes any salary increase. For example, we led a major battle, at European level, to obtain a directive on minimum wages in Europe to avoid social dumping and outsourcing. However, the elected representatives of the RN voted against this directive, in the European Parliament. As for Béziers, we want to show that we are fighting everywhere, on all grounds.

But in Béziers, some RN leaflets now say "voting Ménard means voting Macron"…

I didn't know about that one… The far right has such a cult of the leader that its members spend their time fragmenting. This is perhaps the only good news in the current context but even that is no longer enough to prevent them from gaining power.

How do you explain that the RN is so attractive, particularly in former communist strongholds ?

We must stop saying that the RN seduces workers. With the trivialization that has taken place in recent years, the RN is making voices in the entire population, in all social categories, in all fringes of society. But let's be clear: the first party of workers and employees is not the RN, it's abstention! The problem is there first.

And it undoubtedly results from the betrayals that there have been on multiple occasions, with a left which had to come to power to bring finance into line and which did quite the opposite under François Hollande , by giving the latter the keys to the country. With a left too, which organized the impotence of the State in the face of the market and finance. This is what the far right has thrived on, on the ashes of these neo-liberal policies.

But the State says it wants to fight against the National Rally…

We cannot claim, as Emmanuel Macron does, to fight against the RN by destroying all social rights, all the social achievements which protect employees. If there is one constant, it is that the extreme right always progresses in moments of crisis and social regression, never in moments of social conquest or ;prosperity.

Finally, what we are currently witnessing in France and elsewhere is the alliance between the right and the extreme right – the latter never comes to power alone – and with the business and employer circles. This is what happened in the United States with Donald Trump, in Brazil with Bolsonaro, etc.

In France, we have the same thing with Vincent Bolloré and his operation to conquer the media. Neo-liberal policies are more and more unpopular, as we have seen during the pension reform. This is why, everywhere in the world, capital needs authoritarian power and more and more openly supports anti-democratic parties.

The extreme right would be the instrument of capitalism ?

Absolutely! First of all, because it allows workers to be divided, between those who work and those who do not, between French people and foreigners, between a minimum wage and a person to the RSA… But we're going to forget to talk about Carlos Tavarès (the CEO of Stellantis who earned €36.5 million in 2023, Editor's note). The far right will never talk about shareholder dividends or the salaries of big bosses, because it defends them.

The problem in France is that we live better from our income than from our work: Bernard Arnault's fortune has doubled since Covid. The concern is more there than in the question “are there too many foreigners in France”. But overall, it's a hidden fact while we hear, morning, noon and evening, assertions like “it's not normal for people to receive unemployment benefits without work". However, less than 40% of unemployed people registered with Pôle emploi receive benefits and unemployment is the primary form of social violence.

How to give hope to all those who are disappointed ?

The best antidote is unionism! And progressive political alternatives. One of our compasses is this poem by Louis Aragon: "When the wheat is under the hail, fool who acts delicate, fool who thinks of his quarrels, at the heart of the common fight". Let's take an example from the members of the CNR (National Council of the Resistance), who were from different political sides.

But who had this understanding, in their time, that to prevent the extreme right from returning to power, unifying social perspectives were needed, which would make it possible to socially secure the lives of workers .es and put an end to the fear of tomorrow. Hence Social Security, pay-as-you-go pensions, nationalizations…

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