We are sad to announce that former IYCW secretary-general, René Salanne, died of Covid on 16 April at the age of 94.
The son of Jean-Baptiste Salanne, a sharecropper, and Pascaline Candelé, the daughter of a local shoemaker, he was born in Bayonne in the south of France in 1927.
He began his career with an apprenticeship in woodworking before entering a local foundry.
By the age of sixteen, he was already the secretary of the JOC federation for the Basque region.
He joined the CGT union, a Communist trade union, believing it was the best to represent workers. However, he quickly became disillusioned when CGT leaders sought to give orders to their members. As a result, he and his jocist friends moved across to join the Christian trade union, the CFTC, where they joined in strike action in 1947.
In 1951, he became national vice-president of the French JOC. In 1957, he was elected secretary-general of the IYCW at its first International Council in Rome. He also represented the IYCW in various international conferences, particularly at UNESCO, which is based in Paris.
After completing his term with the IYCW, he became federal secretary for international relations for the CFTC. In 1965, while on a visit to Poland, he met Lech Walesa, the future leader of the Solidarnosc trade union, which played a key role in the downfall of communism.
In 1979, the CFTC changed its name to CFDT or Democratic French Confederation of Labor and René became international director of the new union, where he worked to develop a European trade union confederation.
On 4 August 1956, he married Maria Edwige Castiglioni, who was also a fulltime worker for the JOCF. They had four children together.
Salanne, René Jean (Maitron)
René Salanne (Joseph Cardijn Digital Library)