Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Pensions: mobilization takes hold over time

The mobilization on pensions is installed over time to try to bend the government, with public transport very disrupted this weekend and Monday, before a new showdown on Tuesday and the detailed presentation of the reform the next day.

Gathered in inter-union Saturday, the first three unions of railway workers called to amplify the mobilization against the project of “universal system” of retirement by points, which must spell the end of the 42 current devices, including the special regime of the SNCF. “We call (…) for the strengthening of the movement from Monday to clearly materialize with the government that we want the withdrawal of its project by points,” said Laurent Brun, secretary general of the CGT-Cheminots.

The executive is under pressure after a massive mobilization in the street Thursday (more than 800,000 demonstrators according to the Ministry of the Interior), a new call for a day of strikes and demonstrations on Tuesday, and while the RATP and SNCF traffic is very reduced for two days.

Only 15% of Transilien (RER SNCF and suburban trains), one TGV in six and one TER in ten (mainly by bus) are provided on Saturday. Nine lines of the Paris metro are closed. Traffic will remain greatly reduced on Sunday at both SNCF and RATP. The SNCF even recommended that users avoid the Transilien on Monday, the expected crowds in the stations of Ile-de-France promising to be “very dangerous” for the safety of travelers.

The RATP forecasts traffic still “extremely disturbed” on Sunday and Monday, with even 14 out of 16 metro lines closed on Sunday and 10 on Monday, due to the strike against the pension reform, she announced on Saturday. Traffic will be “normal” Sunday and Monday on automatic lines 1 and 14 of the metro, the Orlyval line which serves Orly airport, as well as the Orlybus and Roissybus bus lines, RATP said in a statement. On Sunday, RER A will be “closed all day”, while RER B traffic will be “very severely disrupted”. On the other hand, half of the buses and two out of three trams, “on average”, will run on Sunday.

Long-awaited announcements

From the steps of Matignon, Edouard Philippe promised on Friday that he would deliver next Wednesday, within the confines of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) dear to the social partners, “the entire government project”. But will there be material to put out the fire in these eagerly awaited announcements?

“The schedule is upset but nothing changes in the government’s objective: to break our solidarity pension plan to replace it with an individualized system where each and everyone will be the loser”, regretted the CGT, where voices are already arguing for a third mobilization day next Thursday. A new inter-union meeting was also scheduled for Tuesday evening by employee organizations (CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU) and youth movements who called for action on December 5 and 10.

“We know very well that it is not a single day that will be enough”, argued Céline Verzeletti, Confederal Secretary of the CGT, calling on the government to “make a strong sign and gesture” by withdrawing its project in order to open “negotiations”. Edouard Philippe was careful to say that he was not “in a logic of confrontation”, as if to move away from his mentor Alain Juppé version 1995.

Before the Prime Minister’s announcements, Solidarity Minister Agnès Buzyn and High Commissioner for Pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye will present the conclusions of the consultation relaunched in September by the government on Monday.

Demonstration “quite tense” in Nantes

Opponents of the “universal system” project, who fear “insecurity” of tomorrow’s retirees, once again pounded the pavement on Saturday in several towns in the region. In the West, the prefectures counted in particular 400 demonstrators in Lorient, less than 500 in Laval, 300 in Saint-Nazaire.

In the early afternoon, a demonstration in Montparnasse in Paris against unemployment and insecurity, traditionally organized every first Saturday in December, echoed the current social movement. “Point retirement is no” read on a large red sign. In addition, hundreds of “yellow vests”, who gave their support to the protest, left in procession from Bercy, for their 56th Saturday of mobilization. In their ranks were CGT activists, noted an AFP journalist.

Some 2,800 people, according to the prefecture, marched in Nantes against the pension reform and precariousness, during a tense demonstration marked by clashes between the police and demonstrators. Contacted by AFP, the Loire-Atlantique prefecture, reported a “fairly tense” demonstration. “There are 2,800 people including 500 radicals of the ultra-left, and black blocks”, and “it is these ultras who are committing the violence”, she indicated, stressing that the first violence began “even before the start of the event “.

“Your reform is like my cardboard sign!”: In Marseille, Saturday, 1,800 people, according to the police headquarters, demonstrated in the streets at the call of the CGT to denounce the pension reform, joined by “vests yellow “.

Fears of trade and tourism professionals

The government has several outbreaks to put out, and not only on special regimes, for which Edouard Philippe has promised “gradual transitions” to the future system. It must in particular respond to the concerns of teachers, who fear that their pensions will fall with the new calculation rules. To avoid this, the Prime Minister has committed to a “gradual upgrading” of their salary.

For their part, trade and tourism professionals are beginning to worry about the consequences of a potentially lasting social movement. In Lyon, hotels are far from filling up, while it is usually impossible to find a room in the city during the Festival of Lights long weekend.

“Overall, we are between -10% and -15% in terms of reservations, but this can reach -30% for some hotels,” lamented Laurent Duc, national president of the Umih trade union and operator of an establishment in Villeurbanne ( suburb of Lyon).

The Paris police prefect, Didier Lallement, took two decrees on Saturday concerning the new day of mobilization on Tuesday against the pension reform, one relating to the closure of shops, the other on perimeter bans. Like last Thursday, the prefect issued a decree obliging shops and establishments located on the route – from place Vauban (7th) to place Denfer-Rochereau (14th) – to close for the duration of the event.

He also asks owners or managers to take “means of protecting their establishments against damage and looting”, to close their terraces and to remove all objects and furniture that could serve as projectiles.

(With AFP)

Pension reform