Emmanuel Macron will test his ability to carry out his policy in France this Thursday, with a day of strike against his plan to raise the legal retirement age to 64, which will cause major disruption in the country. .
Demonstrations, closed schools and dribbling trains: France is preparing for an eventful day. United for the first time in twelve years, the unions are planning rallies in 215 cities according to the CGT, 221 according to the authorities and even 250 according to Solidaires, and hope for a mobilization ” massive “exceeding” the million of demonstrators. A symbolic gauge which would give impetus to a social movement called to register in the long term. The police unsurprisingly set the bar lower: security sources expect a range of 550,000 to 750,000 demonstrators, including 50,000 to 80,000 in the capital, but also 25,000 in Marseille, 20,000 in Toulouse or Lyon. .
We go on a renewable strike for a week, then we negotiate and then we redo a renewable one if it doesn’t work.
Pension reform: the unions put themselves in battle order
Faced with this broad challenge, the government is working to defend its reform and its flagship measure aimed at raising the retirement age to 64, compared to 62 today. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne boasted to the National Assembly ” a justice project and asserted that ” four out of ten French people, the most fragile, the most modest, those who have difficult jobs, will be able to leave before the age of 64 “. The arguments are struggling to convince public opinion, which the polls still show is mostly opposed to the postponement of the legal age.
► To read also: France: Elisabeth Borne unveils her pension reform project
This political test for the executive comes in a tense economic and social context. The French are suffering the effects of high inflation, at 5.2% on average in 2022, in a country which was shaken during Emmanuel Macron’s first term by the demonstrations of “yellow vests” against high prices.
■ “Hassle” in transport
Thursday promises to be complicated for the French who have to take transport or who have children at school. “ It will be a rough Thursday. (…) It will be a Thursday of major disruptions in transport “, Estimated the Minister Delegate for Transport Clément Beaune, calling on users to postpone their trips or to telecommute when they can.
Civil aviation on Tuesday asked airlines to preventively cancel one in five flights at Orly airport on Thursday, due to a strike by air traffic controllers. The two largest public transport companies, SNCF (railways) and RATP (transport in Paris and the Paris region) have forecast major disruptions on Thursday, adding to National Education forecasts of 70% of teachers in the first degree strikers.
In Parisian transport, three metro lines will be completely closed. Ten more will be partially exploited or will only operate during peak hours, the RATP announced on Tuesday. And the movement of trains will be “ very strongly disturbed “Thursday, also announced SNCF Voyageurs. The company plans 1 out of 3 TGVs on the North axis, 1 out of 4 on the East, 1 out of 5 on the Atlantic, 1 out of 3 on the South-East.
■ The energy sector also mobilized
The energy sector will also make no concessions, if we are to believe the statements of the CGT des mines et de l’Énergie, which represents electricity and gas agents. The employees of the giants EDF and Engie plan, in particular, targeted power cuts, against the offices of the deputies, who would support this reform. The strike could also have an impact on the restarting of certain nuclear reactors.
Electricians and gas companies play big with this reform. In addition to being affected by the postponement of the legal age to 64, this sector will see its special regime disappear for new entrants. Unions in the oil sector are also strongly mobilized. With blockages in refineries and fuel depots. The CGT oil announces a renewable strike which could well lead again, supply problems, in the stations.
Addressing motorists who fear a fuel shortage due to work stoppages in refineries, the Minister felt that he ” no need to take precautionary measures because there is currently no blocking. In practice, some stations are already dry due to the number of motorists refueling as a precaution.
■ 70% of primary school teachers on strike
Many parents will also have to find ways to keep their children in care, as 70% of primary school teachers will be on strike and many schools will be closed entirely – “ at least one third in Paris – according to their main union, the Snuipp-FSU.
It is true that it is boring, but it is normal. We have to move and do things so that things can move in the government and we try to adapt.
The teachers’ strike, a headache for the parents of students
The mobilization would thus be of the same magnitude as in December 2019: during the first day of the strike against the previous reform attempt, the unions had counted 70% of strikers, while the ministry had identified 55%. ” This is not a surprise, because we feel that the question of retirement is a major concern for teachers, which is part of the questions in the master’s room “, explains the general secretary of the Snuipp-FSU Guislaine David.
In secondary school too, we are moving towards a very well-attended strike “, indicates the Snes-FSU. Blockades of high schools are particularly expected, several youth organizations calling to join the day of action organized by the eight major trade unions.
■ The battle will also be played out in Parliament
To achieve its ends, the majority should be able to count on the vote of the LRs and a part of the centrist deputies of the Liot group (Freedoms, Independents, Overseas and Territories). But the question of long careers repels more and more parliamentarians who threaten not to vote for the text, reports Pierrick Bonnofrom the political service of RFI.
The 20 deputies of the Liot group, classified in the center, sent a warning to the executive through the voice of their leader Bertrand Pancher during questions to the government on Tuesday. ” For the first time, I will demonstrate this Thursday, for a simple reason: your reform is unfair, because it is based on the postponement of the legal age of departure. The weight of your reform will weigh on the popular and middle classes. On those who started working early “, he launched in the hemicycle.
This is called long careers and it is one of the blind spots of the reform according to the opposition. But the head of government Elisabeth Borne defends her text. “Our project is a justice project. Those who started working early will benefit from early departures,” she said.
Not enough to convince the deputy LR Aurélien Pradié. This former candidate for the presidency of the right-wing party has been leading the offensive for weeks so that long careers are better recognized. ” Who can defend a pension reform in which those who started working early are the turkeys of the farce, he asks. It is neither socially nor technically nor financially acceptable and tenable. And it is our role as opposition to start a showdown with the government “.
According to several parliamentary sources, a dozen Republicans may not vote for the government’s text, just like some majority deputies who are beginning to make their voices heard.
(And with AFP)