French trade union boss steps down in wake of 'label' scandal

Pascal Pavageau took over as the leader of Force Ouvriere six months ago (AFP Photo/BERTRAND GUAY) (AFP/File)

Paris (AFP) - A French trade union boss resigned Wednesday in the wake of reports suggesting he had hundreds of colleagues secretly rated and their files tagged with labels such as "foolish", "stupid", or "plain crazy".

Pascal Pavageau, 49, who took over as head of Force Ouvriere, France's third-largest trade union, six months ago, apologised in a letter to members, seen by AFP, for "mistakes" in his running of the union.

But he went on to attack "comrades" who allegedly plotted his downfall.

"You can be proud of the harm you have done me" and the union, he wrote.

He did not comment on the incriminating files whose existence was revealed earlier this month by the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaine.

In the files, over 100 union leaders were reportedly marked down with labels such as "dumb", "anarchist", "untruthful", "freemason", "gay", "Trotskyite", or even "too intelligent for inclusion on the national board".

Since Pavageau took over as head of FO, which claims up to half a million members, he had steered it more to the left, and sought closer relations with the main left-wing CGT union.