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(en) France, UCL AL #348 - Tribute, A final nod to our comrade Gérard Coste (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 6 Apr 2024 08:29:40 +0300

Libertarian communist postman, militant trade unionist, Gérard had, in recent years, become a "transmitter", passing on his experience and more broadly the experience of the workers' movement. He left us on March 9, 2024. ---- It had been several years since he had to limit his commitment, tired as he was by illness. But all those who knew him will keep the memory of a solid, smiling comrade, with gentle irony, a reassuring presence, and contagious erudition.
Aged 15 in May 68, active in the youth movement in the Paris region, Gérard became a postman in 1972 and took part in the struggles of the time: the antimilitarist Larzac in 1973, then of course the great PTT strike in 1974[1]. It was on this occasion that he joined the Anarchist Federation, whose postal workers edited the Direct Management newsletter. Opposing the refocusing of the CFDT, he attempted without success to create an independent business group, then left the CFDT in 1978. He then worked for several years in Cantal, then in Charente, before returning to Paris in 1986, the main recipe of the Louvre. His path then crossed that of the postal workers of the Union of Libertarian Communist Workers - including Martine Donio, Thierry Renard, Patrice Spadoni, Patrick Velard - who published the newsletter Le Postier franchi.

He soon joined them in the left-wing opposition within the CFDT. Patrice Spadoni underlines the "sympathy which emanated from him, a very committed activist but not at all sectarian, very open to discussion, and above all, very human, very kind, with a permanent humor, caustic but without any malice ".

In November 1988, there was a rupture: the CFDT bureaucracy expelled the Ile-de-France PTT unions which had supported the "yellow trucks" strike. A few weeks later, the excluded founded SUD-PTT[2]. Gérard was a leading facilitator. At the same time, he left the FA.

A SUD-PTT demonstration in 1990
for "1500 francs increase for all". On the far left, Thierry Renard and Gérard Coste. The famous SUD logo has not yet been designed. © SUD-PTT Archives
The 1990s saw him particularly involved in supporting undocumented immigrants, the homeless, in the European Marches against unemployment in 1997 and 1999.

Remaining without political affiliation for a few years, he joined Alternative Libertaire at the time of the 2003 social movement, and participated in the organization's congresses in 2004, 2008 and 2012. In 2006, he spoke in the event organized by AL for 100 years of the Amiens Charter. In 2007, he contributed to the "Syndicalist round tables" of the monthly Alternative libertaire.

At the 2012 AL congress, in Toulouse.
Gérard loved the history of the labor movement, he loved passing it on, learning from it, and it is no coincidence that, in the 2000s, he got involved in running the Center d Solidaires interprofessional studies and training (CEFI-Solidaires).

In recent years, due to his health problems, Gérard was withdrawn but continued to contribute and discuss with his comrades at UCL Saint-Denis. With great modesty, he refused to play the wise old man, even going so far as to deny everything he could still bring in terms of experience and knowledge of the labor movement and our libertarian movement. Until the end he remained rebellious against social injustices and all oppressions. The best way to pay tribute to him is to continue the fight.

Guillaume Davranche, with Martine Donio, Patrice Spadoni and Gaëlle Backer

At the AL congress in 2008, in Saint-Denis.
Although we expected it, there are departures that make us so sad!

Many remember the animation of his training on the history of the workers' movement... Gérard was above all a conveyor of stories, tirelessly reading texts on these workers' movements which served as a basis and compass for constantly renewed action to transform society.

Gérard was also an action activist serving the collective. Active in the PTT strikes in 1986, he remained and will always remain committed to ensuring that workers decide together on their demands and their methods of action.

This is how it has been in all social and societal struggles with the objective of participating in the transformation of a society where humans are at the heart and decide.

There was nothing sad about campaigning with him and we shared many meals, aperitifs and... cooking recipes. Nothing better than good food to remake the world!

Today, we are losing a companion in struggle, a libertarian companion who will miss reflection and action. We will no longer have his grating, even caustic, humor. But we forget nothing and the best thing to do, beyond our differences, our divergences sometimes, is to continue to fight capitalism step by step and win this fucking social transformation. It's not a sure thing, but we owe it to Gégé. He deserved it!

Martine Donio and Patrick Vélard

With Martine Donio, protesting for night allowances in sorting centers, in the 2010s.

To validate

[1]"1974: The great PTT strike", Alternative libertaire, November 2014.

[2]"1989: Black sheep found SUD-PTT", Alternative libertaire, October 2008.

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