Ten things you need to know about Frederic Souillot. He is the mustachioed "biker", at the head Force Ouvriere union.

Frederic (or Fred) Souillot is, first and foremost, a face.

Ten things you need to know about Frederic Souillot. He is the mustachioed "biker", at the head Force Ouvriere union.

Frederic (or Fred) Souillot is, first and foremost, a face. It will soon be recognized by the French, who will discover it on Friday, June 3. Differentiating marks: A horseshoe mustache, not to be confused by the CGT counterpart Philippe Martinez's walrus mustache. There is also a silver ring at each ear. After a motorcycle accident, the "biker" switched to leather and bought a suit jacket.

Souillot is supported by the outgoing general Secretary Yves Veyrier as well as Frederic Homez, the boss of Federation FO de la Metallurgie Frederic Homez. He represents the "reformist line" within a union that has been fractured by wars of currents. Jean-Claude Mailly was his leader from 2004 to 2018. He brought him up to the confederal presidency in 2015. He accepted the confederal leadership in 2015 without hesitation.

He who has been avoiding the media for so long will have to reveal his true identity to the media. Frederic Souillot is rarely on the frontline on sensitive issues. He was the federal secretary for FO Metaux when the ArcelorMittal plant in Florange (Moselle) was closed. One of his supporters said, "He is a great negotiator and easy to reach." He is loyal and a faithful friend. It's a favorite of activists!

Frederic Souillot, 54 years old, returns to his home in Cote-d'Or, near Beaune. He is a fan of hiking and sometimes recalls his gypsy roots. He is the grandson and son of communist militants. This is a shame as FO was established in 1947 by a group of militants opposed to the CGT's alignment with the PCF. Jean Jaures quotes him on his personal Facebook page: "It is that deep down there is only one species: humanity."

Frederic Souillot is a member of Federation de la Metallurgie. He has his card with FO from 1997 to date, two years after he was hired by Schlumberger (a company that specializes in maintenance and installation service stations). He was an energetic shop steward and made FO the first house union. When contacted, his HRD refused to comment on it.

Rarely, at FO, there were two candidates for the Rouen congress (Seine-Maritime), that opened Monday, May 30, and was won by the secretary general of the Federation of Civil Servants. Christian Grolier (secretary general of the Federation of Civil Servants), however, withdrew from the race on Wednesday, June 1, in anticipation of his defeat.

In 2018, Grolier almost won against Veyrier. Trotskyist militants supported him then, who later supported Souillot. The new number one says, "They favored unity in the house." An opponent warns that there are stories of huge money behind the agreement. The Trotskyists can't live without FO subsidies.

Some have criticized his lack of experience and his reformist position. "Will you become CFDTist?" The leader of a Federation asks. Others would prefer that this succession was the subject of more internal discussion. He is also criticised for his inept management of conflicts within the organization. This was evident when he cleaned up Finistere's Departmental Union of Finistere in 2021.

The number one issue is to stem the declining number of members. FO claims that it has 500,000 members, but is not transparent about the numbers. "In reality, it is much less, no more than 300,000, according to Dominique Andolfatto, professor of political science at the University of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and co-author of "Anatomie du syndicalisme" (PUG, 2021). FO activists also admit that they have lost 15% of their members due to the Covid crisis. Trade union ties were weakened during the health crisis because it was harder to organize meetings and speak to members.

Souillot also has a priority: organizing the union fight against the proposed pension reform by Emmanuel Macron. In his speech to congress activists, Yves Veyrier stated that retirement at 60 must be "an aspirational FO, an ideal" and that it should not be "aspirational FO", he added.

FO is still haunted by two ghosts. The first ghost is Pascal Pavageau. He was the ephemeral Secretary general between April 2018 and October 2018. He had registered his "comrades" based on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. On Facebook, he took a stand for Souillot, the Alliance of the Metallurgy, and the Trotskyists.

READ ALSO > What use is FO still? The crisis in which the union is caught up

Jean-Claude Mailly, the predecessor of Jean-Claude Mailly was a supporter of Souillot and was criticized by some troops for appearing at Macron's headquarters five days before the second round.

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