Coronavirus, hospital crisis, pension reform … Fabien Roussel, number one of the PCF, is on all fronts three weeks from the municipal level to defend “left values”, as he repeated to the nurses and railroad workers encountered in Val-de-Marne, the last bastion of a bloodless communist party.
The PCF national secretary has chosen to cross three cities of the only department still in the hands of his party: Villejuif, which fell to the right during the “blue wave” of 2014, Villeneuve-Saint-Georges and Vitry-sur-Seine, still Communists, with the firm hope of remaining so in March.
On the eve of a meeting on Thursday between the leaders of political parties and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on the situation linked to a possible epidemic of coronavirus, Mr. Roussel visited the nursing assistants of the resuscitation and hospitalization services of Paul Brousse hospital in Villejuif, on strike for three weeks.
“No, this is not an election campaign visit,” said Roussel to the director of the hospital, who came to meet him and asked him to leave, his visit being deemed inappropriate before the elections. The dialogue between the grievor and the opposition member remains firm but courteous. The latter may however discuss with the staff in the room reserved for unions.
The fact is that we are not talking about political politics but working conditions. And those of Paul Brousse are “extremely difficult”, testify the young women, who continue to work, although strikers. Some are on the verge of tears: lack of staff, overwork, many “burn-outs” … “Unfortunately, I have already heard that in several hospitals in France. You are right to rebel, to say + stop + “, says Mr. Roussel.
One word is on everyone’s lips and makes us fear for the future: coronavirus. What are we going to do in the event of an epidemic? “We are already understaffed,” worries Valerie Hong, thirty years of work behind her as a nursing assistant and CGT union delegate.
- “Railroad Suicides” –
Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron and the head of government went to the front against the coronavirus which had just killed a second person in France, the first during a visit to the Salpêtriere hospital in Paris, the second ensuring that ‘there was no need “to be afraid or to be negligent”, faced with the risk of an epidemic. WHO raised the international threat to “very high” on Friday.
“I am at the finance committee in the assembly. They decided to reduce public spending, especially on the health budget,” laments the Communist leader.
Another concern is the pension reform. “We must not give in, we will hold together, we must fight,” insists Mr. Roussel, who fears “the nuclear weapon” of 49.3, allowing the adoption of the law bypassing Parliament.
According to him, “the Macron government is doing a lot of harm to the French, the Communists are fighting to restore their confidence and dignity, it is important to have elected officials who defend leftist values”.
These words, he will repeat them later in the day to the railway workers of the SNCF technicentre of Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, who also, speak of “working conditions which deteriorate at high speed”, “outside repairing the machines by all the time, snow, rain or heat wave “, without counting” nervous breakdowns, the more than sixty suicides of railway workers during the last three years “. “And we treat you privileged!”, Gets angry Mr. Roussel.
“The pressure on the employees is enormous. We are in a particular period, the President of the Republic is on a mission, everything must be done in five years”, assures the PCF boss, before leaving for an activist meeting in Vitry, the largest communist city in France, with its 94,000 inhabitants and 40% social housing. “We have to build an alternative for another project. Hence the need for a stronger, more influential communist party,” he said.