Ambroise Croizat

Ambroise Croizat (28 January 1901 Notre-Dame-de-Briançon (Savoie) – 11 February 1951 in Suresnes) was a French syndicalist and politician. As the minister of Labour and of Social security, he founded the French Social security system (or social safety net) and the retirement system, between 1945 and 1947. He was also the general secretary of the Fédération des travailleurs de la métallurgie CGT.

Ambroise Croizat
Ambroise Croizat à son bureau au ministère du travail
French deputy
In office
1 June 1936  9 July 1940
Minister of Labour
In office
6 November 1945  26 January 1946
Minister of Labour and Social security
In office
26 January 1946  16 December 1946
Minister of Labour and Social security
In office
22 January 1947  4 May 1947
Personal details
Born(1901-01-28)28 January 1901
Notre-Dame-de-Briançon (France)
Died11 February 1951(1951-02-11) (aged 50)
Suresnes (France)
Political partyPCF


Early life

His father, Antoine Croizat, was a blue-collar worker.[1][2] and his mother, Louise Jeannette Piccino, was a weaver. Ambroise started working in a plant at the age of 13, when his father was drafted in 1914. As a metalworker trainee, he also followed evening classes, and became a toolmaker near Lyon.

Early politics

In 1917, Croizat joined the Young Socialist Movement, and then the Parti socialiste (French socialist party) in 1918. He began supporting the Section française de l'Internationale ouvrière (SFIO) in the Communist International. He participated in the great social movements of the metalworkers of the Lyon area. In 1920, he joined the Parti communiste, and became one of the leaders of Jeunesses communistes, a political youth organisation, from 1920 to 1928. In 1928,[3] he was named secretary of the Fédération unitaire des métaux (French united federation of metalworkers). From 1929 – to his death in 1951 – he was a member of the central comity and of the bureau of the federated young communist movement.[4] In 1936, he became general secretary of the Fédération unique des métallurgistes CGT, which then represented 20% of the total CGT members.[5]

During the 1936 French legislative election, he was elected in the second division of the 14th district of Seine.[6] He negotiated the parisian metalworking convention, and, as a rapporteur, he presented the collective agreement to the Chamber.

He was subsequently accused of "having participated in the creation and organisation of the Groupe ouvrier et paysan",[7] and on the night of 7 October 1939, he was arrested. On 20 February 1940, he was ejected from the Legislature, and on 3 April 1940, he was sentenced to 5 years in prison, loss of his civil and politic rights, and a fine of 4000 francs.[8][9]. After having been moved between 14 prisons, he was eventually detained during March 1941 in the bagne of Maison Carrée, near Alger. Freed on 5 February 1943, three months after Operation Torch, he was summoned by the CGT to be a member of the consultative commission of the interim government of Alger. After theLibération of France, he again served as an elected official, first in the two constitutive assemblies (voted on 21 October 1945 and 2 June 1946) and then in the National Assembly from 1946 to 1951.

Croizat served as Minister of Labour under the général de Gaulle from 21 November 1945 to 26 January 1946, and Minister of Labour and Social security from 26 January to 16 December 1946 (governments of Felix Gouin and Georges Bidault) and from 22 January to 4 May 1947 (government of Paul Ramadier, to the end of the communist participation in the government).

He participated in the foundation of the Social security system: health insurance, pensions system, child benefit, and broad reform of French labour laws, through the creation of employee representative committees, occupational medicine, regulation of overtime, and a change of statute for miners.[4]

Personal life

Croizat's first wife was Germaine Marie Girod (1902–1977). They divorced and, in 1939, he married Denise Mettetal (1912–1972), with whom he had two children (a daughter in March 1939, and a son in February 1940)[2]


In 1951, Croizat died of lung cancer. The Communist Party organized his funeral, with visitation at the Metalworkers House (now called Maison des métallos) at the CGT siege; historian Michel Étiévent later estimated that a million people attended.[4]) He was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.[10]


Nicknamed the "ministre des travailleurs" (Minister of the workers), Ambroise Croizat is permanently associated with the major laws concerning Social security in France[11], notably the creation and administrative organisation of pension funds, and the special officials' treatment.

He also launched projects concerning employee representatives committees, staff representative's statute, collective agreements, prevention and compensation for workplace accidents, and family benefits.

Government functions

  • Minister of Labour under the gouvernement Charles de Gaulle (2) (21 November 1945 – 26 January 1946)
  • Minister of Labour and Social security under thegouvernement Félix Gouin (26 January – 24 June 1946)
  • Minister of Labour and Social security under thegouvernement Georges Bidault (1) (24 June −16 December 1946)
  • Minister of Labour and Social security under thegouvernement Paul Ramadier (1) (22 January – 4 May 1947)


Multiple items have been named in Croizat's honor.



  • Ambroise Croizat Festival hall, Venissieux.
  • Moûtiers' highschool in Tarentaise Valley, near a town close to where he was born.
  • Vierzon's Ambroise Croizat retirement house.
  • Angers' Ambroise Croizat university restaurant[12]
  • Chambéry's Ambroise Croizat gymnasium.
  • Imphy (Nièvre)'s Ambroise Croizat hall, part of Aperam metalwork factory.
  • Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (Savoie)'s Ambroise Croizat nursing home.
  • Sainte-Tulle (Alpes de Haute Provence)'s Ambroise Croizat people's house.
  • Vaulx-en-Velin (Rhône)'s Ambroise Croizat primary and secondary schools.
  • Tarnos (Landes)'s Ambroise Croizat vocational school.
  • Nice (Alpes-Maritimes)'s previous Social security center.
  • Fontenay-sous-Bois' Ambroise Croizat retired people's house.
  • Gonfreville-l'Orcher's Ambroise-Croizat space, inside the Pôle Santé.
  • Grigny's Ambrosie Croizat Health center, inaugurated on 13 April 2019.


  • In 2015, the French Post Office (la Poste française) issued a postage stamp commemorating the funding of Social security, illustrated with Ambroise Croizat's and Pierre Laroque's portraits.
  • A documentary movie on the History of Social security pays tribute to Ambroise Croizat : La Sociale, produced by Gilles Perret, released on 9 November 2016.


  1. Adolphe Antoine Croizat (1867–1937), ferblantier, fut militant socialiste puis communiste de Lyon. En 1906, il lança la première grève en Savoie. Il gérait aussi Le Travail, journal régional du parti communiste. Voir sur
  2. Jean Marie Mayeur, Arlette Schweitz, Les Parlementaires de la Seine sous la Troisième République, vol. Missing parameter! (Template:Vol.)1.
  3. On trouve aussi 1927, cf. Ambroise Croizat le bâtisseur de la Sécurité sociale, Michel Etiévent,, 1er décembre 2009
  4. Michel Étiévent, « Ambroise Croizat, "militant ambulant" », L'Humanité, le 31 janvier 2001.
  5. Michel Dreyfus, Histoire de la CGT, éditions Compexe, 1995, p. 165 et suivantes.
  6. Voir sur
  7. Constitué légalement en remplacement du groupe parlementaire communiste dissous, sa création figure au Journal officiel (CHAMBRE DES DÉPUTÉS / Modifications aux listes électorales des membres des groupes, JO du 29 septembre 1939).
  8. Condamnation des ex-députés communistes, Le Matin du 4 avril 1940 p.1-2,
  9. Florimond Bonte, Le Chemin de l'Honneur, 1949, p.346-345.
  10. "Ambroise Croizat « S'unir pour donner à la France d'autres espoirs ! »". Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  11. "Ambroise Croizat, 60 ans après sa mort". France inter. 10 February 2011..
  12. "CROUS : Resto'U Ambroise Croizat"..



  • Michel Étiévent, Ambroise Croizat, ou l'invention sociale : suivi de lettres de prisons, 1939–1941, Gap, La Ravoire, 1999, 184 p.
  • Michel Étiévent, Marcel Paul, Ambroise Croizat : chemins croisés d'innovation sociale, Éd. Gap, Challes-les-Eaux, 2008, 181 p. ISBN 978-2-7417-0373-0.
  • Pierre Gastineau, " Ambroise Croizat ", in " Double mètre " : vie et mort d'un syndicaliste : Alfred Lemaire, 1901–1945, Publibook, Paris, 2005, p. 173-174 ISBN 2-7483-1044-6.
  • " Ambroise Croizat ", in le Dictionnaire des parlementaires français (1889–1940), under the direction of Jean Jolly, PUF, 1960.
  • Bernard Friot and Christine Jakse, "Une autre histoire de la Sécurité sociale: Un levier de pouvoir peu à peu confisqué aux salariés", Le Monde diplomatique, vol.62, n°41, décembre 2015, p.3.

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