Saturday of anger for the unions, against a backdrop of declining mobilization and tensions in Paris
The number of demonstrators was down for this seventh day of mobilization against the pension reform. But the discontent of the unions remains: they call on the executive to ask the people for their opinion, via a “citizen consultation”.
“Angry», the unions promise to maintain the pressure on the government, in spite of a rather disappointing day of action. This Saturday, March 11, 368,000 people beat the pavement according to the Ministry of the Interior, for the seventh time against the pension reform project, which is approaching its final stages in Parliament. The CGT claims more than a million demonstrators across the country. In the ranks of the processions, the day was marked by the “determinationof the participants, which also manifested itself in clashes with the police in Paris.
In the early afternoon, the bosses of the centrals behind the social movement did not hide their disappointment, at the start of a day which promised to be less powerful than the others. Saturday is however, in their eyes, a great opportunity for families and private sector employees to join the demonstrators. A waste of time, the processions having been much less provided. No matter: for the unions, it is a question of adding the two demonstrations which took place this week to have the true figure. And if fewer people responded present, this should not hide the deep and increasingly strong anger of the opponents, they judge.
“Determination has passed the stage of anger”
It must be said that the latest twists and turns of the text – the acceleration of debates in the Senate, the controversial speeches of members of the government, including the spokesman, Olivier Véran, judged harshly by the unions – have reinforced the impression of a power camped firmly on its positions. Emmanuel Macron’s response to the inter-union’s requests to be received, without success, finished annoying them.
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“It is very curious, not to say scandalous“, was indignant Laurent Berger, shortly before the departure of the Parisian procession. “We are told, move on, there is nothing to see“Added the emblematic boss of the CFDT. “Determination has passed the stage of anger“, meanwhile warned Philippe Martinez, of the CGT, speaking of a”true arm of honor [de l’exécutif] to the social movement“.
“People are likely to say to themselves, if the government wants violence and blockades, let’s give it what it wants“added his Force Ouvrière counterpart, Frédéric Souillot, when Laurent Escure, for Unsa, felt that we”goes from a social crisis to a political crisis“. “Contempt», «sterile confrontation»… The words were harsh, among trade unionists, to judge the attitude of the executive. “The response of the President of the Republic was: **** you!“, was also annoyed Philippe Martinez. Atmosphere.
Violence and damage
In Paris, unlike the rest of the territory, the procession leaving from the Place de la République was marked by violence, damage to street furniture and clashes with the men in blue. These were feared by the unions: Tuesday, during the last Parisian mobilization, the security service framing the head of the union procession had prevented violent demonstrators, at the head, from hiding among the participants. Enough to infuriate the individuals, who had multiplied jokes, insults, fingers of honor and cries of “collaboratorstowards the members of the union order services.
“They might show it to us, this time“, confided the boss of a power plant, Saturday noon. The mobilization was thus preceded by several hundred individuals dressed in black and multiplying anti-capitalist or anti-fascist slogans, who stuck to the unions to hinder the action of the police, or, perhaps, to hinder the service of union order. The police headquarters also noted the throwing of projectiles at the CGT, in the capital.
Faced with these disruptors, the police charged on several occasions to keep violent people away from the unions, arrested 32 individuals according to the police headquarters and repeatedly used tear gas. Elsewhere in France, the mobilizations took place mostly calmly. Except in Nantes where violence broke out between some demonstrators and CRS at the end of the day, on the sidelines of the procession. The police used tear gas.
A sharp decline in mobilization
This day of protests is also marked by a number of participants that has fallen to its lowest level. In Paris, 300,000 French people took to the streets of the capital, announced the CGT. While the Ministry of the Interior lists 48,000. A mobilization in sharp decline compared to the 700,000 demonstrators claimed by the union after the last mobilization, Tuesday March 7. And at the same level as the day of February 16 which had until then recorded the weakest participation since the beginning of the social movement.
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In the regions, participants are also missing. As in Nantes where 13,000 demonstrators gathered, said the police headquarters at 5 p.m., against 25,000 according to the inter-union. Tuesday, March 7, they were 30,000 according to the prefecture, and 75,000 according to the unions. In Nice, 8,000 people gathered, said the CGT, against 2,300 according to the prefecture. The move was also much weaker than last Tuesday. On March 7, the CGT announced 30,000 demonstrators, against 6,000 for the prefecture.
Ask the opinion of the French
And now ? After this new day, while renewable strikes are still active in certain sectors, including transport, the situation seems to be blocked. Despite seven mobilizations, the unions are unable to get the government to move, which is advancing at pace on its reform project, wishing to move quickly after the five-year term. “It bothers me… that it’s come to this… we should be able to work together on political, substantive issues», Regrets, bitterly, a boss of a central trade union.
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So, on Wednesday, the opponents will take to the streets again, before announcing, in the evening, the follow-up to be given to a social movement that is stalling. At the same time, the unions launched a challenge to the executive on Saturday: ask the people for their opinion, through a referendum or any similar device, on the most explosive points of the text – the decline in the legal age, and the acceleration of the contribution period. “Since the President of the Republic is so sure of himself, he consults the citizens!“Launched, bravado, Philippe Martinez, sure to win popular support.
In the longer term, the unions accuse the executive of endangering the democratic balance by refusing to listen to the street. “The state of our democracy worries me more and more“, sighed François Hommeril, of the CFE-CGC, when Laurent Berger “imploredthe government to come out of this crisis from the top, by stepping back. Some are also worried about an increase in violence, in the face of the government’s silence. Which recalls that he was elected on a program, which notably contained a pension reform. The dialogue of the deaf continues.