“We will go until withdrawal!” “ The procession is not yet Montparnasse party that union representatives motivate their troops with a lot of slogans. But for this 10th day of interprofessional mobilization on Thursday 20 February in Paris, and after two and a half months of protest in the streets, no one is fooled: “There are fewer people than the previous times”.
The figures confirm this shortness of breath. The interior ministry counted 92,000 demonstrators throughout France (compared to 121,000 during the last day of mobilization, February 6 ). In Paris, the official figures give 7,800 demonstrators (against 15,200 on February 6), 50,000 according to the CGT. Attendance is also down from the previous mobilization day on January 29.
In the capital, the demonstrators marched between Montparnasse and the Place d’Italie where the procession arrived calmly after 4 pm, behind banners and placards: “Retreat!” “, ” Point retreats, endless work “ or ” This power is below everything, even on the belt “.
With one voice, the demonstrators, who nevertheless wanted to keep up the pressure, recognized certain tiredness, amid a rowdy examination of the bill in the National Assembly. “It’s still the school holidays”, explains Nathalie, 42, a nursing assistant in Garches, who works at night and “shows during the day”. Above all, the movement begins to “affect the wallet too much”.
“Would you last after two months of demonstrations?” “
“For the nursing staff who cannot do like me, the financial impact is enormous”, underlines the nursing assistant, union representative at Sud. “Would you be holding yourself financially after two months of demonstrations each week?” “, Questions this mother of three children, who believe that with ” pay of 1,800 euros, no one can last over time “: ” If we were paid 4,000 euros per month we would be much more numerous in the streets ”.
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With his “two payslips at zero euros”, Touhami, 41, an employee at the RATP bus depot in Nanterre, “sees a shortage of breath”. Piggybank in hand to collect donations, he ensures, however, that he remains “determined to make all the demonstrations. “ Let go? “Ah no, it’s not on the agenda, “ said the CGT general secretary Philippe Martinez in the Parisian procession.
Some are considering other forms of mobilization, such as Touhami who want “targeted actions” to make the movement last. With other strikers, Lola (pseudo), who works in public statistics, explains that she intends to “write publications explaining that there are other solutions” than that proposed by the reform.
Several demonstrators also mentioned fieldwork to try to remobilize in the spring in a more coordinated manner. “We must relaunch the strategy of a national movement as a whole where the question of blocking the economy is central, putting back on the agenda the unlimited renewable strike which has never been at the heart of the strategy of the trade union centers ”, explains Gaël Quirante, departmental secretary of Sud Poste des Hauts de Seine and member of the inter-professional GA of this department.
Demonstrators were distributing leaflets for a Sunday meeting in Paris of coordination of several interprofessional assemblies and strike committees from all over France. “We will discuss the establishment of a dark week in March, with the blocking of strategic sectors. We need to put in place a battle plan, explains Gaël Quirante. If we want to win, we need a whole movement, with both the trade union organizations, the political organizations opposed to the reform and all these forms of embryonic organizations that have enabled the blockages. “
“These demonstrations no longer make sense”
Pau Desforest retired 66 years old, mobilized with the yellow vests of Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), is defeatist on the possibility of the strike movement to make the government fold. “I think that if there is not a massive and general strike we will not achieve much. We need a blockage of the country, “ said this former bookseller. “But I don’t think we are ready for that in the country”, she specifies, recalling however that “the longevity of the movement is unequaled. “
For the sexagenarian, “these manifestations no longer make sense” in the face of such a dense system of law enforcement. “We too accept the police measures imposed by the state. When you see all this force deployed, you don’t feel respected, “she says, denouncing “ mobile traps: a new expression of repression ”.
Even if they are less present than usual, the police remain present all along the route from Montparnasse to Place d’Italie. As has been the case for several mobilizations, they form a cordon at the head of the procession and house, in certain places, the parade. “The worst part is that we got used to it,” regrets Pau, when no virulent slogan against the police was heard during the parade which arrived at around 4 p.m. Place d’Italie, after a departure at 2 p.m.
“Denial of government”
Anger is directed against “the government’s denial. ” Latest example mentioned by several demonstrators: the refusal of the executive to respond to the proposal of the left, on February 10, to organize a referendum on pension reform. “We are dealing with a narrow government that wants to dry us up financially,” says Toubami, who is enthusiastic to see many professions united on the subject. If the teachers seemed less numerous – school holidays oblige – many trades are represented: national theaters, booksellers, health personnel, RATP, railway workers. And many students.
In the various processions, the anger goes far beyond the pension reform. “I am not only mobilized against pensions, but against Macron, who wants to establish an American system. We have a government that has never broken so much, ” comments Pau Desforest, for whom “ pension reform was the last straw that broke the record ”.
Seydou, who works in the banking sector, says nothing else. Beyond the pension reform, he says he is there to defend the social pact and the planet: “Because I link our pension system and ecology. If we want to slow down global warming, we cannot afford to have a funded pension system based on the real economy and therefore the extraction of natural resources ”.
A group of college teachers from Val d’Oise says they expect nothing from the debate in the National Assembly. One of them explains that they fear “the use of 49.3, what we want is the outright withdrawal from the project. “ It ensures that the mobilization goes beyond the reform of pension and there is a real rejection of the government: it predicts a movement of anger if there forced passage and think that people take to the streets.
This tenth day of mobilization comes as employers and unions continue to assert their positions at the retirement financing conference, initially proposed by the CFDT and which must lead to proposals by the end of April to bring the pension system in 2027. One of the reasons for the tensions is explained by the constrained framework imposed by the government which prohibits an increase in contributions or decreases in pensions.
At the National Assembly where the deputies must parse some 41,000 amendments, the discussions started Monday in the hemicycle, in a rowdy atmosphere and as of Wednesday, the examination turned to blockage.
In the regions, the prefectures counted 2,700 demonstrators in Toulouse, 2,200 in Le Havre, 2,000 in Clermont-Ferrand, 1,750 in Nantes, 1,500 in Rennes, 1,200 in Montpellier, 550 in Brest and 500 in Quimper and Beziers, at the call of the intersyndicale (CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, youth and student organizations) which has been leading the slingshot for two and a half months.