Posted 6 Feb. 2023 at 07:06 PMUpdated Feb 6. 2023 at 07:25 PM
A week after a historic mobilization against the pension reform, the unions are calling again this Tuesday for a “day of strikes and demonstrations”. It will be the third since Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne presented the outlines of her reform on January 10, aimed in particular at postponing the legal retirement age by two years, to 64.
So far, the mobilization has gone crescendo, going from 1.1 million demonstrators throughout France according to the police and 2 million according to the CGT on January 19 to 1.27 million and 2.8 million on January 31. Last Tuesday was even the first time that the Interior Ministry’s assessment approached 1.3 million. Even in 1995, even in May 1968, this level had not been equalled.
The bar is high
The bar is therefore high for this third day of action and no one ventures to predict that it will be crossed even if on the side of the unions, there are still some 250 meeting places this time.
A third day of absence from work in less than a month is becoming “hard financially”, reports a CGT activist who, after two days of strike, will take an RTT to march on Tuesday. Participation could therefore mark time. “It should be a little less strong”, recognize many trade unionists. Especially since the inter-union has already planned a fourth day of mobilization next Saturday.
She is trying a game of poker by assuming that this will allow employees who cannot strike during the week to come and protest in the streets against the government’s plan. “That day, we are counting on a massive, family, relaxed, festive mobilization to say ‘no’ to 64 years old”, explained the secretary general of the CFDT Laurent Berger, in an interview with “Echos”.
Its central is particularly attached to the idea of demonstrating during a weekend because it believes that this allows a whole segment of the workforce who rarely take to the streets – first and second line workers – to be able to march without losing a day’s salary, or having to inform their employer.
The strong signal of railway workers to public opinion
The idea is also gaining ground in other trade unions. “The ‘yellow vests’ have shown that people could aspire to want to demonstrate on a Saturday”, explains a CGT member, while the management of his plant has implemented this principle several weeks ago internally.
There is precedent that suggests the bet is worth it. Saturday, October 2, 2010, between 900,000 people according to the police and 3 million according to the CGT had demonstrated against the increase from 60 to 62 years of the legal age of retirement. “What will have to be counted is the mobilization of Tuesday plus that of Saturday, the two will have to be added because some will choose Tuesday and others will reserve for Saturday”, estimates for his part the president of the CFE -CGC, Francois Hommeril.
In any case, the railway workers’ federations sent a strong signal to public opinion by announcing on Monday that they would not call a strike on Saturday. The same strategy could be chosen in public transport, facilitating the arrival at meeting points.
It will be more complicated this Tuesday. The SNCF announced a “very disturbed” traffic, with a call for a strike by all the railway unions then Wednesday a traffic still “disturbed” in the suburban trains of Ile-de-France at the call of the CGT railway workers and Sud-Rail. In the Paris region, metro and RER traffic will also be “very disrupted” on Tuesday, despite a marked improvement compared to the two previous days of mobilization since no metro line should be completely closed, according to the RATP.
On the national education side, mobilization would be down. Only the SNUIPP of Paris communicated strike estimates, with nearly 50% of strikers in the primary and at least 60 schools closed.