STRIKES 2023. The unions will therefore form a united front against the pension reform, several strikes and demonstrations are planned throughout the territory on January 19.
The month of January was already announced to be socially loaded, after the announcements of the Borne government on the pension reform on Tuesday January 10, no more room for doubt! The tension is palpable in all sectors. Like the salary increase, the thorny issue of pensions has the ability to get everyone to agree. Thus, shortly after the long press conference of the executive on Tuesday evening, the unions agreed to demonstrate against this reform deemed “unfair”. A first meeting in the street was therefore decided in stride. “Strikes and demonstrations” will be on the program on Thursday, January 19, 2023. “This is the start of a mobilization, we will see the evening of the 19th for the rest”, has already anticipated the boss of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, leader of the reformist union. Left-wing parties have also called for joining the ranks of processions across France.
Anyway, until then, other social movements are preparing. This January 10 thus marked the entry into force of the “unlimited” strike notice in the hospitals after the repeated strikes of the liberal doctors. Another mobilization should affect RATP transport this Friday, January 13, the day of the mandatory annual negotiations. National Education should join the movement in turn on January 17.
An inter-union demonstration on January 19
The eight leaders of the French unions have called for a collective demonstration against the pension reform presented by Elisabeth Borne this Tuesday, January 10. The CFDT, CGT, FO, CFTC, Unsa, FSU, CFE-CGC and Solidaires will therefore be present. It is the date of Thursday January 19 which has been blocked, only a few days before the “March for our pensions” of January 21 supported by the party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, La France insoumise. Clémentine Autain already warned about BFM TV January 10 that “the moment that can most federate in the country will be the date proposed by the trade unions”. The whole left, from the PS to the ecologists, has called for people to join the ranks. “My sneakers are ready,” Marine Tondelier, new national secretary of EELV, told AFP. On the side of the French Communist Party, led by Fabien Roussel, the call is shared.
However, not all the opposition will be present. On BFM TV, the secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, declared that “deputies or representatives of the National Rally” were not invited. On franceinfoLaure Lavalette, spokesperson for the RN in the National Assembly, declared rather that “the demonstrations are not part of the DNA” of the party.
The unions denounce an “unjustified” reform. This Tuesday, January 10, Elisabeth Borne announced several upcoming measures concerning the pension system in France, including the legal retirement age of 62 to 64 years. In a communicated, the CFDT considered that “the financing of the pension system absolutely does not require such a brutal measure which, in addition to being unfair, will penalize the most modest workers”. The intersyndicale also announced a retirement that would take place “in the long term”. For the time being, the places of mobilization have not been announced, but several groupings will take place throughout France, and not only in Paris. On the site of the CGT will be listed the various places of regroupings.
What extent of the mobilization on January 19?
At the end of the Council of Ministers, Olivier Véran, spokesperson for the government, announced, confident, that the executive “does not project itself into the idea of a massive mobilization”. “We have come out of the consultation phase and we are entering the phase of explanation, information, discussion with the French to explain, re-explain why it is fundamental that we carry out this pension reform”, a he developed. Olivier Véran therefore asked the French to “find out to see if you are impacted and in what direction”.
Despite the convergence of struggles thanks to this inter-union unity forced by events – as was the case in 2010 for the same reasons – Laurent Berger is not certain of full mobilization. In comments reported by the World, the general secretary of the CFDT let slip to one of his collaborators that a “half day of strike without being paid, when the end of the month arrives earlier and earlier, it is not simple…”. The daily also revealed, according to a source close to Elisabeth Borne, that she is both “focused and worried”, not wanting to relive the adventures of last Christmas with the strike by SNCF controllers which had surprised the government. In reality, no one can gauge the magnitude of the movement that is preparing: a few tens of thousands of people? A million protesters? Any further ?
A strike at the RATP in January, and at the SNCF?
After chain strikes at the end of the year, new mobilizations are expected in the transport sector. The RATP is taking the lead with the CGT, which has filed a strike notice for this Friday, January 13 “which covers all staff, of all categories and in all services”. The advanced date for a strike corresponds to the holding of the mandatory annual negotiations and must allow each employee to “be heard” according to the union. The main claim is financial and relates to a “monthly statutory increase of 300 euros, equivalent to 50 index points”. A few days after the presentation of the pension reform, it is not impossible that the subject will be added to the list of the main demands.
On the side of the SNCF, during the presentation of his wishes on January 4, CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou said he feared a “rather strong reaction” from railway workers to the presentation of the pension reform of January 10. This “reaction” could “disrupt the company” he declared, pessimistic. In the event of a strike, Jean-Pierre Farandou then added: “We will have a thought for our customers”.
The energy sector mobilized in January
At the microphone of franceinfo, Wednesday, January 11, the secretary general of the National Federation of Mines and Energy CGT (FNME) did not hide his ambitions. “The strike begins on January 19 and will end when the reform has been withdrawn”, thus assured Sébastien Menesplier, promising however: “We will act on our working tools”, but “we will not penalize users”. For him, “the renewable strike will be posed, as will the actions on our working tools”. And Sébastien Menesplier adds: “What is needed is for the strike to be massive and extensive.”
In addition to the decline in the legal retirement age, it is the abolition of special regimes that is worrying in the electricity and gas industries sector, such as at EDF. “We don’t want to be the generation that buries the special pension scheme. We are against social dumping and we will fight,” he explained. As reported by Sébastien Miche, general delegate of the Energy-CFDT Chemistry Federation, whose Le Figaro echoes, “the energy federations are meeting next Monday to consult each other, but the expected mobilization must be strong”.
Notice of strike in hospitals
Since January 10, hospitals in the grip of the health crisis have taken part in strike movements. FO-Santé is the first union to have filed a strike notice in this sector, but is joined from January 13 to 19 by another initiative of the CGT-Santé. In a communicated, the FO union complains of “unacceptable working conditions” and wants to defend “exhausted” nursing staff. At the hospital, the demands are numerous: increase in wages – some like the CGT are campaigning for a minimum wage of 2,000 euros -, retirement at 60 and possibly early at 55, but also the recruitment of “200,000 agents in the health, social and medico-social sectors” and the end of the degradation and precariousness of the French health service. To appease the anger, Emmanuel Macron went himself to the caregivers on January 6 to send his wishes and make proposals concerning hiring and remuneration, but the head of state’s speech did not convince.
Doctors on strike in early January
The strike of general practitioners which lasted several weeks was not renewed. However, some doctors remain mobilized to warn “Doctors for tomorrow”: the strikes will be able to continue on Saturday morning but also of the PDSA, namely doctors working during the permanence of care therefore in the evening, at night but also weekends.
The members of the “Doctors for tomorrow” collective are calling for an increase in the prices of consultations, a reduction in their administrative tasks or even incentive measures to reduce the number of medical deserts. The first claim is the one that crystallizes the most tensions. The doctors are demanding a doubling of the amount of the visit, going from 25 to 50€.
The Samu also on strike?
In a communicated dated January 3, 2023, the AFARM (French Association of Medical Regulation Assistants) sounded the alarm about the working conditions of ARMs; indeed, the medical regulation assistants who respond to calls when 15 is dialed have appealed to the Minister of Health, François Braun to improve their working conditions and increase the number of staff. Faced with the epidemic triptych, Covid, flu and bronchiolitis; combined with the general practitioners’ strike, the calls have never been so high, denounced the AFARM. Thus, the collective has decided to “launch a last cry of alarm (…) before an unprecedented national movement of ARMs” if this call is not heard.
Strikes in National Education?
National Education is preparing for a mobilization of teachers on January 17 after an appeal launched by several education unions. Among their demands: higher wages and opposition to pension reform without surprise, but also the fight against the reform of professional high schools and the professional path which has been criticized in many respects and for several months.
The civil service on the bridge in January
Wednesday, January 11, the day after the announcements of Elisabeth Borne concerning the pension reform, the inter-union of the public service invited all the agents to mobilize, denouncing an “unfair and useless” reform. In a joint press release, CFDT, CFE-CGC, CGT, FA, FO, FSU, Solidaires and UNSA “simply demand” from the government “the withdrawal of its plan to postpone the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 and increase the contribution period”. And to add: “The improvements mentioned in the rights of agents by the establishment of a progressive retirement in certain cases, the preservation of the rights linked to active service and now their portability, can in no way compensate for the decline in the retirement age or the extension of the contribution period.”
The yellow vests back?
The January strikes could be the starting point for the return of the “yellow vests” movement. On Saturday January 7, between 3,000 and 4,000 people demonstrated all over France to give a second wind to the citizens’ movement which was fighting against inflation and pension reform from October 2018. Several Facebook pages are still calling for the major themes to be resumed. back to school under a new struggle of yellow vests: fight against pension reform, inflation, energy and fuel prices or the use of 49.3. It remains to be seen whether this call will be heard.