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Confédération Générale du Travail and Syndicaliste Révolutionnaire

Jean-Philippe Zanco

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Western Europe » France

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899, 1900-1999

Key-Topics communism, labor, labor unions, revolution, socialism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00396.x


After the Waldeck-Rousseau Act of March 21, 1884 legalized the syndicats (labor unions), a Fédération Nationale des Syndicats (National Federation of Unions) (FNS) was created in Lyon in October 1886, the first to try to unify the unions in a single movement. It quickly went through internal struggles: laborers, in fact, still lacked a clear ideology. Soon, however, the rise of anarchist ideas smoothed out ideological oppositions. The principle of the general strike, first proposed by the construction workers at the Congress of the FNS in Montluçon (1887), was massively endorsed at the Congress of Nantes (1894). A meeting called by the FNS and its rival the Fédération des Bourses du Travail (the Federation of Labor Exchanges, or FBT, run by the anarchists), about 30 local federations, 10 national professional federations, 20 labor exchanges, and 126 local craft chambers or union branches, met in Limoges on September 23–28, 1895. The Congress decided: “Among the various labor and professional associations of workers and clerks … is established a united and collective organization which will be called the Confédération Générale du Travail [CGT].” But unity was far from absolute, and the first years of the young union were stormy; the FBT and its charismatic leader, Fernand Pelloutier , remained in the light of the CGT and its ephemeral secretaries (four in three years). In 1901 ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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