Before the national day of January 31 against pension reform, the strike resumed from Thursday, January 26 and until Friday in refineries, power plants, but also ports and docks. Emmanuel Macron’s reform, which all the unions oppose and who will arrive in Parliament on Monday, would lead to the abolition of special schemes at EDF or Engie. Their employees would also be forced, in the long term, to wait 64 years to receive their pension.
On January 31, at the call of all the unions, the strike will concern all sectors: schools, civil servants, transport, services… But in energy, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) is organizing additional mobilizations. She wishes “go get even more strikers for the 31st and show that we master the work tool”explains to Agence France-Presse Fabrice Coudour, federal secretary of the union in the energy branch.
At the very beginning of the day, the strikers carried out filtering operations at the entrance to the nuclear power plants, delaying the start of work for the day shifts. Production cuts in power plants and dams were to be expected from Thursday, but they should not cause power cuts for the general public, as they are supervised by the Electricity transmission network (RTE), the line manager at high and very high voltage.
Despite the presence of many strikers, “there were not many production cuts that night”noted Mr. Coudour on Thursday, reporting network security messages “from the end of the day on Wednesday”. RTE, responsible for ensuring the security of the electricity supply, can send such messages to the strikers if it considers that the production cuts compromise the functioning of the network.
“We wonder about the veracity of these messages”explained the union official, given their publication just before the strike. “If these are messages to guarantee commercial exchanges”the assemblies of strikers will ask themselves if they should “respect them or not”he added.
In refineries, stopping installations is not on the agenda, but fuel shipments will be blocked to depots. At TotalEnergies, the CGT reported Thursday morning 100% strikers at the Flanders depot (North), 80% at the Normandy refinery, 60% at the La Mède biorefinery (Bouches-du-Rhône), 50% at the Donges refinery (Loire-Atlantique) and 30% at the Grandpuits site (Seine-et-Marne).
“Hit the Economy”
On the menu of these two days of mobilization, also actions “positive” in energy: free, price reductions and restoration of power for cut households are to be expected, in order to counterbalance the criticisms addressed after the announcement of “targeted cuts”, in particular against elected officials in favor of the reform. As of Wednesday, cuts took place on wind and solar parks in the Montluçon sector, claimed by the CGT. As always, Enedis will file a complaint.
“We don’t want [pas de] blockages which would be penalizing for all French people and we do not accept any threat “said Wednesday the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, before the Senate, speaking of “misdemeanor” more than“political or militant action”.
The CGT-Pétrole nevertheless wishes “a little harder movement”explained Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the TotalEnergies Europe committee. “I don’t like the term ‘block’, but we believe that the generalization of the strike is necessary to affect the economy”added Mr. Defresne, who sees this as the only way to “retreat the government”, unlike twenty-four hour movements spaced out in time. Oil companies are planning local actions with port infrastructure employees. The CGT federation of ports and docks called for a 24-hour strike on Thursday.