(Paris) The Senate accelerated on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday the examination of the postponement of the retirement age to 64, a flagship measure of the pension reform, after a day of “historic mobilization”.
The inter-union, which wants to continue to put pressure on the street, asked to be received “urgently” by Emmanuel Macron, warning against a situation which risks becoming explosive. For the moment, the Élysée has not responded directly to this request.
“The door of the government is more than open”, however indicated on RTL the spokesman of the government Olivier Véran. “We respect the institutions. It is the Prime Minister and the government who are leading this text through its parliamentary process,” he added.
The SNCF plans a slightly improved transport offer this Wednesday, with a third of the trains in circulation for the TGV and TER, against a fifth on Tuesday.
If the unions had promised to put France “to a halt” on March 7, the rate of strikers remained a little below the records.
But the number of people on the streets has exceeded the peak of January 31, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior and the CGT.
The police counted 1.28 million demonstrators and the CGT 3.5 million, against 1.27 million and 2.5 million respectively on January 31. The inter-union advance “more than 3 million” demonstrators.
This mobilization “is historic with regard to the last 40 or 50 years”, estimated Laurent Berger, the leader of the CFDT.
Dismissing the risk of running out of steam, the inter-union, which always presents a united front, calls for two new days of action: Saturday March 11, then the day when the Senate and the Assembly will try to reach an agreement in a joint joint committee. (CMP) on the text. Most likely on the 15th, according to parliamentary sources.
While renewable strikes affect key sectors of the economy, the inter-union considered that “the silence of the President of the Republic constitutes a serious democratic problem which inevitably leads to a situation which could become explosive”.
The executive is counting on the adoption of the reform by the Senate by Sunday and is considering “a vote on March 16” in both chambers.
The right-wing senatorial majority gave a big boost overnight to the examination of the most controversial article, the postponement of the legal age of departure from 62 to 64 years.
After having drawn a tool from its internal regulations, the Senate threw out the majority of the left-wing amendments, which ended up leaving the hemicycle. Debates will resume on Wednesday afternoon on this article.
Very crowded processions
As in previous mobilizations, the processions were generally calm on Tuesday despite some clashes between hooded demonstrators and the police in Paris, Nantes, or even in Lyon and Rennes where water cannons were used.
In Paris, where the number of the procession played the big difference between the count of the CGT (700,000) and the police headquarters (81,000), 43 people were arrested.
The rates of strikers remained a little below the best scores recorded since the beginning of the movement, among railway workers (39% against 46.3% on January 19) as among teachers and at EDF (47.65% of employees on strike according to management, compared to 50% on January 19).
In the state civil service as a whole, nearly one in four officers were on strike, up from 28% on the first day of action on January 19.
Everywhere in France, the processions were very provided.
The number of demonstrators was between 6,000 (prefecture) and 30,000 (CGT) in Nice, between 13,000 and 23,000 in Bayonne, between 20,500 and 55,000 in Grenoble.
In Marseille, the CGT reported 245,000 demonstrators (against 205,000 on January 31), 30,000 according to the prefecture (40,000 on January 31).
The French remain very largely opposed in the polls to the postponement of the legal age of departure, even if they think that it will be implemented in fine.
The actions continue: the secretary general of the CGT Energy, Sébastien Ménesplier, has forecast a “dark week” in the sector, with production cuts mainly in the nuclear sector.
Fuel shipments were still blocked on Wednesday morning at the exit of the TotalEnergies group’s refineries in France, in order to protest against the government’s pension reform project, CGT-Chemistry told AFP.
According to Eric Sellini, national elected representative of the CGT-Chemistry who called for a renewable strike, the large TotalEnergies shipping sites are at a standstill.
And in gas, three of the four LNG terminals in France were shut down for “seven days” on Monday by the unions.
“If the reform is adopted, it is unlikely that the mobilization will be maintained at this level”, anticipates a government source, which is counting on a disengagement of the reformist unions.
Faced with “the deadlock situation”, Emmanuel Macron must “find a way out from above”, “or else a dissolution” of the National Assembly, “or else a referendum”, pleaded Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI).
Thursday, the traffic will again be “disturbed”, according to the SNCF: all its unions have launched a renewable strike.