French unions promote the third general strike against the pension reform

French unions promote the third general strike against the pension reform

a little breather for Emmanuel Macron? This Tuesday the third general strike takes place in France in less than 20 days against the pension reform, which increases the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 years (with 42 or 43 contributing to receive a full pension). Following the massive mobilizations of January 19 and 31 — with 1.27 million protesters, according to the police, the number of protesters last week was the highest since the late 1980s — French unions seek to maintain the pressure on the centrist Executive to withdraw the unpopular measure, which began to be debated on Monday in the National Assembly.

However, the follow-up to this day of protests in the neighboring country is being less than in previous weeks, according to the first data on strikers and protesters. Definitelya reflection of the difficulty of giving up a day’s salary in these times of inflation. But the unions are confident that this slight recoil of social pressure is temporary. They are already preparing another day for Saturday with the aim of massively joining private sector employees.

Less follow-up than previous strikes

As already happened in the two previous mobilizations, the rail traffic has been “very affected”, with more than 50% of high-speed trains canceled and 70% of regional ones. In Paris, only the two robotic metro lines (out of a total of 16) circulate normally. 20% of flights have been canceled at the Parisian airport of Orly.

The FSU-SNUipp union, the main organization of the primary education, indicated that 50% of the teachers will go on strike. According to the Ministry of Education, 14.6% of primary school teachers and 13.75% of secondary teachers are following the strike, 10% less than last week’s data.

The workers of the refineries of Total, who had already promoted a successful protest in autumn that left a third of gas stations without fuel, they will be absent from their job on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the case of the electric company EDF, they promote a strike from Monday to Wednesday. The production of electricity decreased the equivalent of four nuclear reactors without this causing power outages, the state group said.

“Points in common with the yellow vests”

As already happened with the strikes of 19 and 31, The eyes are mainly on the demonstrations. The unions organized 200 protests throughout the French territory, the high following being especially significant in small and medium towns, with a greater presence of workers and lower middle classes than in large metropolises such as Paris, Lyon or Bordeaux.

“This is significant from a popular France that feels threatened by the pension reform. There are obvious points in common between the indignation aroused by this measure and that seen during the revolt of the yellow vests”, the political scientist explained to El Periódico de Catalunya. Christophe Bouillaud, professor at Sciences Po Grenoble. Unlike other recent sectoral mobilizations, the French do not go on strike by proxy. The presence in the protests of workers from various sectors of the private sector represents one of the novelties of these mobilizations.

Despite strong social pressure, Macron refuses to withdraw the reform, which is opposed by 69% of French people, according to the latest survey by the Ifop institute. The unpopular text, which also requires having contributed for 43 years to receive a full board from 2027, he arrived on Monday at the plenary session of Parliament, where there was a more than boisterous atmosphere.

“We must choose between reform or bankruptcy,” said the budget minister, Gabriel Attal, from the podium of the National Assembly. According to the Government, if the text is not approved, the retirement system will accumulate a deficit of some 13,000 million euros in 2030, which represents 3% of total pension spending. An argument that has hardly permeated public opinion. After having failed in the battle for the story, Macron trusts, with a certain cynicism, that the difficulty of going on strike and the school holidays in February are his best allies in this social pulse.


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