This is a five-year-old dossier that the CFDT saw resurface in the midst of a social conflict over pension reform. On January 16, the Paris Court of Appeal condemned the union for "abuse of power" in one of its branches, the Independent Democratic Trade Union (SCID), for a case dating back to 2014.
At that time, the SCID, with around 3,500 members, was affiliated to the CFDT. Everyone finds advantages: the small union benefits from the influence of the confederation, which in turn wins members and therefore contributions. But at that time, there was talk of night and Sunday work in tourist areas. The CFDT is for, the SCID not. Its secretary general, Alexandre Torgomian, will even publish a column in Liberation to defend his position and criticize that of the "parent company".
"They had changed the locks"
This is the starting point of the conflict, for the trade unionist. In May 2014, the Federation of CFDT Services placed the SCID under provisional administration. "I arrived one morning at my union office, there was a security service outside the door, and they had changed the locks," recalls Alexandre Torgomian. In February 2015, it was the turn of the national office of the CFDT to vote on putting the union under “provisional administration”.
For him, it is obvious, it is a question of reprisals, for the refusal of the SCID to return to the rank on the subject of Sunday work. For Maître Saadat, who defended the CFDT in this case, the reasons are other: "The SCID wanted to operate outside federal rules, while remaining affiliated to the CFDT". Officially, the SCID is criticized for having used a parallel system for collecting members and for having voted against the draft resolution of the CFDT that year, which determined the union's main line.
However, the Confederation's internal regulations do not "explicitly" provide for provisional administration, as Maître Saadat confirms. "But it is up to the union membership of the confederation," he says. He also ensures that justice had already ruled in similar cases, where unions contested their administration by the confederation, giving reason to the CFDT.
The CFDT changed its regulations
This is effectively what the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris did, in a first decision, on May 22, 2018. It reads in particular that “the decisions to suspend unions and place them under direct supervision of federation remain fully in accordance with the disciplinary law usually applicable in the matter ”.
But the union, which disaffiliated from the CFDT in 2016, decided to appeal. This time, therefore, it was the Paris Court of Appeal that went back, condemning the Confederation. "The CFDT could not legally place the SCID-CFDT under provisional administration, regardless of the relevance of this measure," said the Court of Appeal.
A decision which for the coup is consistent with the very first judgment given in this case, in January 2017, by the TGI of Bobigny. Assigned by the SCID which challenged its first provisional administration by the Federation of CFDT services in May 2014, the court had indeed quashed this decision.
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In the end, the CFDT, for having "exceeded the powers it derives from its statutes", was ordered to pay 12,000 euros in damages to the complainants and 8,000 euros "as irreparable costs as they were forced to initiate for the whole procedure ”. However, the court rejected the request for reimbursement of SCID contributions. The union claimed more than 600,000 euros in this respect.
It remains to be seen whether the CFDT will appeal to the Cour de Cassation to contest this judgment. In the meantime, the confederation has modified its internal regulations: now, it provides black and white for the possibility of provisional administration in the event of a dispute with an affiliated union.