Between 1.2 and 2 million French people beat the pavement, Thursday, January 19, to protect the French pension system. This is more than in 2019, when demonstrations and strikes had slowed down the adoption of a point-based retirement system by the Edouard Philippe government, before the Covid-19 destroyed the project. At the time, the CGT had then counted 1.5 million demonstrators, the police 800,000. In the front page of the daily press this Friday morning, the reports of a massive mobilization are multiplying. “In Force” judge Release“The unions are mobilizing, Macron is staying the course”, believes Le Figaro, “The Showdown Has Begun”, title The voice of the Norththus announcing the beginning of a long showdown.
A record that galvanizes the unions
The report galvanizes the eight major trade union centers, united for the first time in 12 years in a single call for mobilization this Thursday, January 19. Two hundred processions responded to them by marching through the cities of France. Including 36,000 people in Toulouse, 26,000 in Marseille, 25,000 in Nantes, 19,000 in Clermont-Ferrand, 17,000 in Rennes, while in Paris the ministry counted 80,0000 demonstrators – 400,000 according to the CGT.
Among the workers, the strike was closely followed, paralyzing many sectors: even stopping traffic in the port of Calais, the first in France for travellers, and putting nearly half of the railway workers on strike. The strike rates in the refineries of TotalEnergie (between 70 and 100% according to the unions), at EDF (50%), among civil servants (1/3 according to the ministry) are now pushing the unions to renew the call for a walkout to make the government back down.
The date of January 31 was thus set at the end of the first day of action. But several unions and youth movements are already calling for maintaining the pressure in the next ten days. In particular on January 23, date of presentation of the bill in the Council of Ministers. Several intersyndicales, such as SUD-Solidaires or FO, called at the end of the day to “multiply actions and initiatives throughout the territory, in companies and services and in places of study”, according to Murielle Guilbert, co – general delegate SOUTH solidarity.
Emmanuel Macron reaffirms his determination
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne praised Thursday evening the “good conditions” in which the demonstrations took place, while her Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, admitted that the mobilization had been “important”. He considered it “normal” that a pension reform “causes concern”. According to him, we must “respond” and “listen to the messages” of the demonstrators. The petition launched in mid-December by the eight unions against a pension reform deemed “unfair and brutal” crossed the threshold of 600,000 signatures on Thursday.
From Barcelona, where he was traveling yesterday with part of the government, Emmanuel Macron stubbornly defended his pension reform. “Nor can we pretend that there were no elections a few months ago,” he said, believing that his re-election meant that his project had been “democratically presented, validated “. He reaffirmed the “determination” of the executive to bring about a “fair and responsible” reform.
Eyes focused on key sectors
The eyes are now riveted on certain strategic sectors, such as energy and transport and their capacity to engage, by the renewable strike, a standoff with the executive. A meeting is scheduled for Friday, February 20 between all the railway unions of the SNCF, in order to decide on the follow-up to be given to the movement. “We are working on raising the level of mobilization among railway workers and indeed, we will probably go beyond what is programmed by the confederal intersyndicales”, declared Laurent Brun the leader of the first SNCF union on RMC. He also underlined “the very very strong determination of the agents to weigh” in the debate on pensions.
Another key sector, the CGT Mines-Energie federation announced earlier this week a real “battle plan” to put pressure on the government thanks to their control over the gas and electricity distribution and production networks, in the midst of a period of tension. energy. On the 19th, a reduction of more than 7,000 MW of electricity had already been made in the territory, “without any impact on users”, specifies the CGT.