Albert Thomas appointed Minister of Munitions

Elected as a deputy of the Socialist Federation of the Seine in 1910 and mayor of Champigny in 1912, Albert Thomas was appointed as Under-Secretary of State for Artillery and Munitions on 20 May 1915, and subsequently Minister of Munitions at the end of 1916.

Tasked with organising war production, he was responsible for coordinating the industries involved and recruiting labour. He worked with the Comité des Forges (Foundry Committee) and Louis Renault, with whom he developed an understanding. Concerned with the plight of workers' conditions, he fought to impose conciliation and arbitration and supported the creation of workers' representatives.

Albert Thomas in 1914

He visited factories in Lyon and Grenoble, then on the 1st of September 1916 he visited the Renault factory in Billancourt and willingly listened to their demands. He published numerous texts on the use of female labour and the regulation of labour disputes. He was replaced in September 1917 by Louis Loucheur. He urged management and workers to mutually come to "this willingness to understand, this energy in effort, I ask you not only for the magnificent industrial production that will be achieved tomorrow, together, by the French working class and French employers, I would remind you that it is my duty to ask you for them right away, continuously and intensely, for the war". Extract from speech made to the Renault factories on 1st September 1917.


Book : Adeline Blaszkiewicz, Albert Thomas, Le socialisme en guerre, 1914-1918, PUR 2016.