Pension reform: after six weeks of strike, what forms can still take the protest?

Pension reform: after six weeks of strike, what forms can still take the protest?

More than forty days have passed since the start of the social movement on December 5, and the financial pressure weighing on the strikers is pushing them to rethink their modes of action.

A lawyer from the Lyon bar throws her dress on the ground to protest against the pension reform, January 9, 2020 in Lyon.  (NICOLAS LIPONNE / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

The strikers engaged against the pension reform end their sixth week of mobilization, Thursday, January 16. A day marked by new actions, a meeting of the intersyndicale and a seminar, with which the government wants to show that it is turning the page, while the intersyndicale CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, Solidaires and FSU continues to demand the total withdrawal of the reform project and that demonstrations took place Tuesday and Wednesday in several large cities (Paris, Metz, Montpellier, Marseille, Dieppe or Rennes). Ports, subways, trains, refineries, lawyers, doctors, Banque de France… If, for some strikers, it has become financially difficult not to return to work, the social movement takes other forms.

Towards a pearl strike in transport?

After six weeks of strike, the financial situation of many strikers mobilized against the pension reform has become delicate. Contacted by franceinfo, Bruno Poncet, federal secretary of SUD Rail, explains that the principle remains, for the moment, the renewable strike voted every day in general assembly.“Our unions call to keep the movement renewable, explains the trade unionist, but it is true that, locally, as in Miramas, near Marseille, or towards Saint-Etienne, certain colleagues choose in general assembly to concentrate on the highlights, like Thursday. ” Bruno Poncet recognizes that “Some colleagues are taken by the throat” while the movement extends over time.

“We do not change the operating mode”, he assures, however. “Just look at Paris Gare de Lyon or Gare de l’Est, where the strike has been running continuously since December 5.” How do the strikers cope with the financial pressure weighing on them? “The strike funds are functioning”, explains Bruno Poncet, for whom popular support also plays a very important role. “The number of messages of support that we can receive is impressive. It gives us a lot of strength. And then, people continue to support the strike in the polls, they are mostly opposed to this reform. It allows us to think that we are right to fight. ”

Despite this stated desire, the rate of strikers in transport companies is eroding over the days. At the SNCF, it fell back on Wednesday below 5% (4.7%) in the entire company, with just over one in five drivers (22.4%) on strike. “We will focus on the highlights […], with the hope of reaching 30 to 40% of strikes ”, justified for his part a trade unionist of the SNCF in Parisian, January 12.

Punching actions

In recent days, punching actions have multiplied, largely relayed by videos widely shared on social networks. Rennes lawyers opened the ball with a throw of dresses at the feet of the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, who came to present her wishes to the profession. Lawyers have also multiplied the “zealous strikes”, investing en masse the benches of the defense to obtain postponements of hearings.. Since then, the symbol has been taken up by other trades, hospital professions and teachers.

Blockages at refineries and ports and power cuts

The CGT National Federation of Ports and Docks called on Monday for a “Dead Ports” operation, a work stoppage of all employees in the sector and the installation of pickets. As of Wednesday, at least seven ports had answered the call: Calais, Dunkirk, Le Havre, Rouen, Nantes-Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Marseille.

In Marseille, dockers and sailors have been blocking since Tuesday, and for a period of three days, all access doors to the port of Marseille. The Corsica Linea company even had to cancel eighteen crossings planned on these days between Marseille and Corsica. At the same time, the company is facing an action by the sailors of a competing company, La Méridionale, which has blocked three of their ships at the quayside at the port of Marseille. In Calais and Dunkirk, Tony Hautbois, secretary general of the CGT national federation ports and docks, ensured that the strike was followed “100%”.

Sunday, lhe oil group Total has announced the shutdown of the distillation unit at its Donges (Loire-Atlantique) refinery due to a picket line at the port of Saint-Nazaire which blocked all supplies of crude oil. “The social movement was renewed [mardi 14 janvier] at 5 a.m. until Friday 5 a.m.“, Told AFP a spokesperson for the refinery, which employs 650 people.

However, the management of the refinery believes that ”there is no shortage because we can ship. The products can be delivered to petrol stations without difficulty. ” [On] will support even more the friends who are in the process of engaging in blocking movements, particularly in the refineries ”, explained Gabriel Gaudy, regional secretary of FO Ile-de-France.

The protest also affects the energy sector. Tuesday at Besançon, technicians have switched “Around 32,000 customers during off-peak hours and practiced momentary power cuts”, indicated the CGT. In addition, the Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) waste treatment site, which collects and treats the garbage of more than one and a half million inhabitants, was blocked.

Finally, at the Banque de France, the strike by security agents and operators continued in the two largest fiduciary centers, in La Courneuve (Seine-Saint-Denis) and Sainghin-en-Mélantois (North). The banknote paper manufacturing site, in Vic-le-Comte, and the Chamalières printing plant, in Puy-de-Dôme, also experienced walkouts.

Franceinfo’s selection on pension reform

• Decryption. Has the pivotal age really been removed from the draft pension reform?

• Reaction. “I can’t take it anymore”, Laurent Berger angry at the attacks, threats, “bullshit” circulating on social networks

• Analysis. After six weeks of strike, what forms can still take the protest?

• True or Fake? Tiphaine Auzière, the daughter of Brigitte Macron, is she really the lawyer of the CFDT?