The CFDT faced with the transformation of France’s energy system (1973-1977)

Mobilisations for the environment after 1968
By Renaud Bécot


This article examines the role of the CFDT during the mobilisation of the 1970s against the French nuclear power plant plan, by highlighting the diversity of union structures and activists that were involved – rather than emphasising the confederal level. The CFDT’s position was defined within the framework of the ordinary functioning of labour union structures, even before the rise of an “antinuclear movement”. This position was the result of a long-term reflection on both social and environmental issues related to the evolution of the energy system, and this reflection gave trade unionists the opportunity to introduce themselves as players in a fairer industrial transformation. However, the situation of the CFDT became uncomfortable as its structures and activists began to interact with political ecology activists. As a result, several union actors started working to restrict and limit interactions between labour union and social movements. This division within the protests against the nuclear programme eventually casts light on the dynamics that participated in the early “re-centring” of the CFDT.
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