Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Pension conflict: will the movement continue to radicalize?

Challenges – The CFDT claims victory with the withdrawal of the pivotal age. But aren’t the terms of the financing conference a trap for the plant?

Dominique Andolfato – She can play on the fact that she still managed to resolve a stuck situation, by playing the negotiation game and being responsible. From a tactical point of view it is not nothing. Even if, of course, nothing is really settled. But given the complexity of the subject and the opacity that reigns, the CFDT can always show that its action has been decisive.

Are there any chances that the Medef and the CFDT will agree to find alternative solutions at the pivotal age?

Rather, the two organizations have an interest in coming to an agreement to keep an autonomous decision-making space embodied by joint management as in the Agirc-Arcco complementary scheme. It is the French-style welfare state that is at stake. For opposite, the government wants to resume the design and management of public social policies, as it has shown concerning unemployment insurance. But the task promises to be difficult, given its lack of efficiency, an inability to change, and the Jacobinism which characterizes power in France more than ever, not to mention the divisions between the social partners.

Why is the CFDT the target of certain CGT and SUD-Rail federations?

We have two blocks which have very, very different visions of the working world: the utopia of rupture (CGT and SUD) and reform and possibilism (CFDT). Hence the divisions that marked the social movement of December and January 2019-2020. The GCT and SUD-Rail advocate the outright withdrawal of the pension reform project, refuse to negotiate and do not necessarily recognize their interlocutors. Clearly, it is the final struggle or nothing, almost revolution or death. The CFDT is in a more responsible approach with a desire to discuss. Especially since the pension reform project to establish a universal point system is part of a perspective of change led by the CFDT.

This opposition is not new …

Indeed, the CFDT and certain organizations of the CGT and SUD have already collided in the past. Let us not forget that SUD is historically a dissidence from the CFDT, faithful to a concept above all combative of union action. We are also witnessing a reactivation of a class struggle – even hatred – which can only divide these organizations a little more. In this context, and because for the CFDT the fight is not the cardinal value, the other organizations therefore denounce the compromises, its betrayal …

Are we witnessing a drift from the base of these two unions who lock themselves in a protest to the end? Can we expect the multiplication of punch actions?

Union teams have shrunk everywhere. Therefore, collective action becomes volatile. It tends to become the work of more autonomous activists, even more radical, trapped in a kind of story telling which has lost all sense of reality, dominated by emotion and the need for recognition. Consequently, a certain activism, characterized by improvised and useless actions – such as the recent power cuts – tends to take over from the difficulty in making numbers.

But unions also have their share of responsibility for these developments. They have become more professional and have too often lost contact with the base (except at the time of professional elections); As a result, they no longer play their role of educating or socializing workers within the collectives where they are theoretically located.

Finally, employers have also developed policies which have individualized working and employment conditions, also breaking the solidarities that naturally existed. Hence the unease that exists in some companies, which partly explains the outbreaks of anger that erupt from then on recurrently.

Will the CGT not emerge from the conflict more divided than ever and above all very weak?

Not necessarily. The confederation tends to crystallize an intransigent trade unionism with an exacerbated tribunitian function, a kind of other world that does not want to change. And this is not unnecessary: ​​it polarizes discontent. At least things are clear for employers and for public authorities. But this attitude is less and less convincing employees to support it.

Philippe Martinez appeared invigorated at the start of the conflict. Did he manage his boat well to defend the values ​​of his union?

He plays his role. A rather caricatural role. Without surprise. It looks pretty good, even improving. His entourage, dominated by the far left, undoubtedly appreciates. Employees are more circumspect and are not fooled by the spectacle that is playing out.

Can you describe in a few words the energy CGT at the origin of the power cuts?

It is a strong federation of the CGT, a former EDF-GDF bastion. But it has lost some of its luster. It had to adapt to the transformations of the sector that it did not necessarily reject. Some of these organizations seem to regret it today and are tempted by more radical actions. The more discreet unionism, adept at corridor negotiations or political lobbying, has probably lost its effectiveness. The gap has undoubtedly also widened between the professionals of this federation and the staff.

The CFE-CGC seems to be in the wheel of the CGT. The union of executives does not risk blurring its image?

This is not the first time that the CGC is in positions quite close to the CGT, in the management. The two organizations share certain visions concerning the economic model, the organization of the company, the social hierarchy. The novelty is to show it more clearly, even to trumpet it.

Can we say that the UNSA, despite its internal divisions, is the winner of the conflict?

Without a doubt. Its components are traditionally more autonomous from each other than in other confederations. It is therefore easier for it to manage its internal contradictions, and therefore differences between, in particular, the confederation and its establishments at SNCF or RATP. Everyone’s interests must be taken into account, and everyone is faced with a different trade union problem, which is a function of competition between various organizations. At SNCF and RATP, Unsa has gained in representativeness. The social movement also gave the Confederal Unsa and its brand new Secretary General, Laurent Escure, the opportunity to assert themselves on the social scene and to compete with other confederations and union leaders. Without having won its stripes in terms of union representativeness at national level, Unsa has thus called into question the monopoly of the five other union confederations…. This annoys the CGT and FO in particular …

Does the movement of yellow vests influence the base of certain unions to punch actions?

Obviously, in some companies, particularly at RATP, new forms of unionism are developing. A unionism of non-professionals and activists. You might think he was inspired by the yellow vests. No doubt this movement has lifted certain inhibitions.

But it is more a radical critique of classical organizations that is at the origin of neo-unionism. And this is characterized by a return to a sort of old-fashioned unionism, anchored in the field and reviving a certain activism. This could have led to “punch” actions in the case of these RATP unionists who appear to be involved in actions vis-à-vis the CFDT.

Is the social dispute over pensions also a union response to the yellow vest movement?

If it was for the unions to regain leadership in the social protest, it seems successful. But, as it stands, the movement seems to have failed, except for a few professions or corporations, which for various reasons – political or nuisance capacity in particular – have obtained the maintenance of specific features in their retirement system. Of course, we still have to wait for the results of the fundraising conference. Furthermore, the fire is not yet completely extinguished …

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