Posted 6 Feb. 2023 at 12:50Updated Feb 6. 2023 at 15:09
This Saturday will be a day of departure on vacation for zone B which covers in particular Lille, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence or even Rouen. It will also be a day of mobilization against the pension reform. This could portend a dark day in transport, with its share of SNCF users left at the dock.
Conscious of the unpopularity of such a situation and anxious not to lend their flank to criticism from the executive, the trade union federations of railway workers have decided not to call on their troops to strike next weekend, contrary to what Tuesday (and this Wednesday for CGT and Sud-Rail).
“Do not block the crossover of the holidays”
“We debated the possibility of not having a call for a strike on this day and of having a simple call for demonstration”, had indicated from the 1er February the federal secretary of Sud-Rail, Erik Meyer. “We don’t want to block the holiday crossover,” he added. Unsa had put even more pressure by declaring not to call a strike that day.
This point of view is now shared by all the organizations of railway workers, who are in the process of ensuring that they are followed by their base, which seems to be the case a priori. The notices will be maintained so that the agents who wish to can go to demonstrate but without there being a call for a day without a train.
Such a decision will not allow only those who want to go on vacation to do so. “Saturday’s mobilization is not about claims specific to railway workers, but about a subject that concerns everyone; it therefore moves the lines a little,” explains a trade unionist.
A decisive crowd on Saturday
Also, if the trains are running, it will make it easier to transport protesters to the parade grounds. However, the crowds at the parades on Saturday will be decisive in the balance of power with the government, which remains firm in the face of the mobilization, entirely focused as it is on the search for a political compromise with LR.
And then, by not calling for a black day, the representative unions are also showing their sense of responsibility in opposition to the spontaneous and uncontrolled strike by the controllers which blocked the trains at Christmas. An element to oppose to the government which speaks of reforming the minimum service. For the executive, the preservation of this holiday Saturday is nevertheless a real relief.
Finally, another major argument played against a call for a strike: the railway workers’ federations know that the battle for pensions is being played out both in the streets and in public opinion. For the time being, the polls show that, while the popularity of Emmanuel Macron and Elisabeth Borne is deteriorating, that of the social movement remains very high, such as opposition to the reform. According to an Elabe poll for BFMTV published on 1er February, the day after the mobilization of January 31, two-thirds of French people say they support the mobilization against the reform.
It remains to be seen now what the mobilization of the railway workers will be on Tuesday, knowing that the disturbances promise to be a little less strong than previously, and especially on Wednesday, the CGT and Sud-Rail taking the risk of extending the strike without the approval of the CFDT and Unsa.