Fetishized Training and the Political Stakes of a Centralized Structure: The Case of the Federal Training Center of the FEN (1976–1982)

By Guy Brucy

At the beginning of the 1970s, FEN was the most powerful union organization of state education and public service. At the same time, it had to deal with the growing influence of internal minority groups who threatened the power of the majority responsible for direction. In 1976, this direction established a training initiative whose purpose was to reinforce central power and to preserve the future of the majority by creating a network of departmental sections. The organization of courses, their supervision by a team of training leaders who adhered to majority principles, the selection of curriculum and pedagogy which both favored the collective activity of trainees — all these aimed to shape a new type of militant motivated by a federal spirit and independent from the national union system. This plan quickly crystallized the opposition of both the most important unions of the majority tendency, notably the SNI, which guarded its independence, as well as of the unions directed by the minority group “Unité et Action”, which feared the majority’s control over their sections. An object of ever more violent and widespread attacks, the plan would be profoundly revised at the beginning of the 1980s.


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