Modes of Training in the CFDT: From “Collective Advancement” to Securing Individual Trajectories (1950–2000)

By Cécile Guillaume

The CFDT has always given great importance to labour education in order to strengthen union identity and cohesion and develop union efficiency. These two goals have evolved following the evolution of the CFDT’s repertoire of action. Since 1950, the will to use training in order to fuel and reinforce « organisational culture » has been frequently reinforced by the periodical arrival of new generations of activists. At the same time, the rising level of the activists’ formal education, the high rate of generational change and the professionalization of union practices have shifted labour education toward expertise and technical knowledge, reducing the aim of “collective emancipation” and union democracy. Today, the development of competency management courses to rationalize activists’ trajectories, which may count towards a qualification accreditation for work experience, is seen as the consecration of a depoliticised, institutional and individualistic vision of union commitment, which may be reconverted into other working spheres.


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