Tribute by Fabien Roussel to Marcel Paul

Posted on 11/11/2022 by PCF

Marcel Paul’s legacy makes us stronger in the battle to rebuild a great energy service

Forty years ago, Marcel Paul disappeared at the age of 82.

The former president of the National Federation of Resistance and Patriotic Exiles and Internees (FNDIRP) was returning from the November 11, 1982 ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, where he had spoken with the President of the Republic François Mitterrand, when he died in his apartment in Saint- Dennis, early afternoon.

A survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, Marcel Paul had been dedicated since 1963 to preserving the memory of the freedom fighters during World War II. He had been, at Buchenwald, one of the principal architects of the “Committee of French Interests,” an organization created in this concentration camp in the image of the National Council of Resistance, and headed by Colonel Henri Manhès.

When the Second World War broke out, Marcel Paul had already been involved for more than fifteen years, first in the CGT, then in the ranks of the Communist Party.

Public assistance child Marcel Paul had become an electrician after World War I, thanks to the training he received by enlisting in the French Navy.

Employed in 1923 by the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution de l’Electricité – whose acronym CPDE can still be read today on some Parisian sidewalks – Marcel Paul first worked in electricity production at the Saint-Ouen power station. , then in the distribution in one. of the districts in the center of Paris.

Then, the young activist gradually became involved in the battle for a single status for the personnel of the electric companies in the Paris region.

At the same time, he contributed to the establishment, in the early 1930s, of a first social work network for public service personnel, including a dispensary, a legal service and a joint purchasing group.
It was the time when the trade unionists of the KQSHP put into practice the theory of trade unionism with multiple bases which will know its apogee after the electoral victory of the Popular Front (with the creation of holiday camps for children, vocational training centers for the unemployed, nursing home for healing workers, etc.).

Municipal councilor of Paris from 1935 to 1938, Marcel Paul defended at the Hôtel de Ville the daily lives of the residents of working-class neighborhoods or the demands of public service personnel.

On the eve of the Second World War, he was appointed general secretary of the reunited lighting federation CGT. Among other things, he advocated the creation of a CGT-affiliated managers’ union. He was also increasingly interested in energy policy issues.

After World War II, Marcel Paul became Minister of Industrial Production. His name would definitely be attached to this great achievement directly inspired by the program of the National Council of Resistance: the nationalization of gas and electricity and the creation of EDF – GDF.

Considering the impossibility of the gas and electricity market to meet the needs of the population, Marcel Paul worked to nationalize as many companies as possible, without however eliminating all private companies.

At the same time, he accompanied this nationalization with an ambitious social policy, offering all electricians and gas operators a national personnel status based on all the statuses that had existed until then.

Eventually, he planned to give users a seat on the board of directors, but the Cold War got the best of this project.

It was then that Marcel Paul became secretary of the CGT lighting federation again, after a stint at the head of the Central Council for Social Affairs (CCOS).

This is it heritage whether precious, guarantor of France’s independence and the right to energy for all, which today has been weakened by more than two decades of European liberalization accompanied by successive French governments.
Worse, these policies food of serious energy crisis in France and in Europe disarming our country in the face of globalized speculative mechanisms.

With the creation of an “energy market” and competition between public operators, with the NOME law of 2010 and the creation of Arenh, with plans to dismantle our integrated public operator, liberal governments tackle this edifice, imagined and built, stone by stone at the instigation of Marcel Pal and the energy workers.

The Communists of 2022 are faithful to this legacy by challenging capitalist logic and uniting users, energy workers, economic actors and public authorities around a project: the reconstruction of a large public energy service, from production to distribution, supported by an integrated public operator on behalf of EDF, and the repeal of the NOME and ARENH laws.

It is this path started by Marcel Paul in the conditions of his time, which today will make it possible to solve the energy crisis, the source of shortages and restrictions for families, the explosion of prices for public authorities, the costs for businesses and the loss of sovereignty for our place.

Therefore, it is this struggle that the PCF, its parliamentarians, elected officials and activists, will strengthen in the coming weeks, with the same determination as the one who left us 40 years ago and to whom we pay tribute today, our friend Marcel Paul.

Fabien Roussel

PCF National Secretary

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