The protest does not weaken against the unpopular pension reform. The triggering of 49.3 by the executive, Thursday, March 16, angered many French people. This weekend, the unions are planning “local local rallies”. Others, more spontaneous, should take place throughout the country.
The inter-union called on Thursday, in the wake of the recourse by Élisabeth Borne to article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows the adoption of a text without a vote, except motion of censure, to rallies this Saturday March 18 and Sunday March 19, as well as a 9th day of strikes and demonstrations on Thursday March 23.
The regional unions of trade unions, in particular the CGT, and other organizations have called for demonstrations throughout the territory: Paris (Place d’Italie), Montpellier, Marseille, Brest, Toulon, etc., not to mention spontaneous gatherings. In Besançon (Doubs), 300 demonstrators lit a brazier this Saturday morning and some burned their voter cards there. In the streets of Meaux (Seine-et-Marne), some 200 people marched with CGT leader Philippe Martinez, while another rally also took place in Seine-et-Marne, in Melun.
In Nantes, the ring road was blocked in the morning, near a roundabout which serves the Atlantis shopping center, one of the largest in the region. The operation was lifted at midday.
A thousand people gathered in peace this morning, place de l’Hôtel de ville in Le Havre. The entrances to the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences of Bordeaux-Montaigne University are barricaded by garbage cans, iron gates and a pile of wooden chairs and tables. On one of the walls, the inscription “Let them beat a retreat”.
Thousands of people gathered on Friday Place de la Concorde
In Paris, on the evenings of Thursday and Friday, thousands of people gathered at Place de la Concorde, a few hundred meters from the National Assembly and the Elysée. The opposition to the reform took a more radical turn there on Friday evening, carried by young activists tired of the weekly processions. 61 people were arrested. This Saturday morning, around fifty activists protested against these arrests in front of the police station of the 1st arrondissement of the capital. Gatherings in Place de la Concorde and on the Champs-Elysées were banned by the Paris police headquarters, after two evenings of demonstrations punctuated by incidents.
“Due to the serious risk of disturbances to public order and security (…) any gathering on the public thoroughfare at Place de la Concorde and its surroundings as well as in the sector of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is banned,” the prefecture told AFP. “People who try to regroup there will be systematically ousted by the police” and may be fined, the same source added.
Clashes and damage occurred in Lyon on Friday evening, and the town hall of the 4th arrondissement was targeted. Demonstrators burst in and lit a fire, which was quickly extinguished by the police who arrested 36 people, according to the prefecture. Also in Lyon, a few hundred young people set fire to trash cans, overturned scooters, smashed billboards, threw firecrackers and tagged shop windows. The police responded by using tear gas.
In Strasbourg, it was on Place Kléber that 1,600 protesters gathered. “We too will go through in force,” chanted the demonstrators. The prefecture reported “degradation” in the city center, but no arrests.
Traffic improving slightly at SNCF
In the sky, traffic should remain cloudless this weekend, but flight cancellations are expected from Monday: the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) has asked airlines to cancel 30% of their flights to Paris-Orly and 20% in Marseille-Provence due to the air traffic controllers’ strike.
On the rails, on the other hand, the four representative unions of the SNCF called to maintain the renewable strike which started on March 7. The next highlight “is expected Thursday, March 23, unless a motion of censure against the government is adopted or if the reform is withdrawn,” said Didier Mathis, secretary general of Unsa-Ferroviaire. Rail traffic was moderately disrupted on Friday with two out of three TGVs and one out of two TERs. For this weekend, it is improving slightly. In the Paris region, there is also better, but several suburban lines remain disrupted. On the other hand, Parisians must expect “a black day” in the metro next Thursday, according to FO-RATP, the leading union among drivers.
In Gonfreville-l’Orcher, in Seine-Maritime, the striking employees of TotalEnergies “raised their voices”, according to Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator. The shutdown of the facilities at the TotalEnergies refinery in Normandy “began Friday evening”, the CGT secretary general of the country’s largest refinery, Alexis Antonioli, told AFP on Saturday. This shutdown will take several days, however, and should not cause immediate fuel shortages at gas stations across the country. “The stoppage of shipments by the strikers leads” in fact to the stoppage of the installations”, continued Alexis Antonioli, “the stocks being already full” on the site of the refinery.
Meeting on Friday, the CGT energy unions decided to “reinforce everywhere” the movement next week and called for “the renewal of the strike and the maximum disruption of work”, according to Fabrice Coudour, federal secretary of the CGT Energy. . Production cuts, targeted cuts and free actions will always be there.
The movement has hardened a little on the gas side, in the eleven underground gas storage sites of Storengy, the largest of which in Chémery (Loir-et-Cher) has been put on hold for the strikers, without consequences for customers according to management. The three LNG terminals of Elengy, another subsidiary of Engie, are still on strike, unlike that of Dunkirk, operated by the Belgian Fluxys. On the electricity side, production cuts continued on Friday, with no impact on customers but affecting EDF’s finances.
In addition, in Paris, 10,000 tonnes of trash are still piling up on the sidewalks, according to the town hall. The town hall of Paris noted a “stabilization” of the volume of uncollected waste in the capital this Saturday, on the thirteenth day of strike against the pension reform, while requisitioned dump trucks collected garbage according to the prefecture.
A requisition order from the garbage collectors has been signed by the Paris police headquarters to allow collection but “no dumpster has come out” in the districts where collection is normally carried out by municipal agents, said the town hall. According to the CGT, 95% of the employees of the Ivry treatment site and 100% of the drivers of the two garages were on strike on Friday. Regarding the garbage collectors, no number of strikers has been communicated from a union source.