The Force Ouvrière union took over the social works committee of the Toulouse town hall (Cosat) and its 25,000 members after a “putsch” on the board of directors which ousted President Stéphane Piquemal. Behind the scenes, it’s war …
It is the revenge of a ghost. Long irremovable general secretary of the Force Ouvrière union of municipal agents, “resigned” in 2014 by his Parisian management for gloomy management anomalies and suspicious travel, André Falba became, in the torpor of the summer, the new chairman of the committee. sports and cultural social works of agents of the city of Toulouse, otherwise called by its acronym, COSAT.
A sleight of hand that was played during an extraordinary board of directors, on July 2, when 31 administrators (25 elected union officials and 6 municipal councilors) had to rule on the fate of the treasurer, Michèle Steckel , suspected of having generously allocated “donations” in the amount of 9,500 euros to her daughter. Financial housing of which only the Costat, shaken by multiple cases since the 2000s, has the secret. Except that the meeting finally turned in ricochet to the “execution” of President Stéphane Piquemal, of the UNSA, the very one who had precipitated the fall and signed the end of the omnipotence of Force Ouvrière on the Capitol, in 2015. Reelected three years later, he will not have the leisure to go until the end of his mandate, a deadline scheduled for 2023.
“I was the victim of a defiance vote without a legal reason,” he protests today. By pointing to a takeover of the social service by Force Ouvrière “with the blessing of the town hall” before the professional elections next year. “They make me pay for my support for Franck Biasotto in the last municipal elections,” he assures us. An accusation defended by Jean-Paul Bouche, the referent municipal councilor and vice-president of Costat, who assures that he did not take part in the vote of no confidence against Stéphane Piquemal. Which is ready to initiate a petition before the administrative court to request the cancellation of the famous extraordinary board of directors.
At the Capitol, we refuse to comment on this new intestine war …
The case is all the more disorderly that Michèle Steckel, if she is no longer treasurer, has remained administrator, leaving many unionists doubtful. Was she just a pretext? Some trade unionists, scandalized by the return of André Falba to a sulphurous past, denounce the return of “small arrangements between friends”. Others evoke Mason fraternities… and are astonished at another “reappearance” as treasurer. That of Belkacem Ouarag, also targeted, in his time, by a complaint for theft around a misappropriation of Christmas gifts (!).
In short, the climate is again deleterious and plunges the institution, destabilized, into its darkest hours. These games of influence and power could almost make you smile if it wasn’t for the balance (and the reputation) of a works council endowed, all the same, with a budget of 7 million. euros and which has nearly 25,000 members, employees and retirees from the town hall, but also from Toulouse Métropole, Habitat Toulouse, CCAS, Véolia, Crédit municipal, ISDAT (École des Beaux-Arts ), the Caisse des écoles, the EPFLGT (Établissement Public Foncier du Grand Toulouse) or the community of communes of Comminges, by providing them with various social and leisure services. At the Capitol, we refuse to comment on this new intestine war. “Since his arrival, Jean-Paul Bouche has only ensured that the statutes are respected,” says one at the town hall. As for the new president André Falba, he did not respond to our requests. One thing is certain, the union feud has only just begun.
A long history of legal turmoil
It’s a curse! From the outset, the Costat, a sort of super works council of the Toulouse town hall, has been the prey of very political influence games where the Force Ouvrière union has long reigned supreme. In the early 2000s, a scandal splashed and sent to prison the main leaders of the Force Ouvrière union at the time, convicted in particular of corruption and embezzlement of employee insurance funds. A lot of cash evaporated in election campaigns, union mysteries or more prosaically in the pockets of those concerned. This did not communicate Force Ouvrière to keep control of Cosat until 2015 against a backdrop of internal rifts. André Falba, retired now back to business, then had to issue a post of municipal secretary general, targeted by a complaint for “breach of trust” filed by his own treasurer. The story repeats itself…