PARIS: Opponents of the pension reform will again demonstrate everywhere in France on Tuesday, for a tenth day of high-risk action, with “significantly more” young people upset against an inflexible government and an “unprecedented” security system.
The showdown continues. Five days after a resurgence of mobilization, tarnished by numerous excesses, the social movement is setting off again. With its usual lot of strikes and blockages.
Train traffic, disrupted for three weeks, remains limited with three out of five TGVs and one out of two TERs on average according to SNCF. Difficulties also in Parisian transport, where the RATP has reduced traffic on most metro and RER lines.
Getting around by car is not necessarily easier, with 15% of service stations running out of at least one fuel, especially in the west and south – a consequence of the shutdown of five of the country’s seven refineries.
Even on foot, you sometimes have to squeeze through the waste, especially in Paris where 7,300 tonnes of uncollected garbage still litter the sidewalks.
In primary education, 30% of teachers will be on strike according to the FSU, the main union.
Inconveniences assumed by the unions, starting with the CGT, whose outgoing leader, Philippe Martinez, repeated on Monday that “the objective is the withdrawal” of the reform and that “there is no reason not to believe it”.
At the CFDT, Laurent Berger said he expected “a very strong movement from the government” on the flagship measure of the postponement of the legal age: “He must say ’64 years will not apply'”.
But the spokesperson for the executive, Olivier Véran, immediately closed the door, saying that “the law on pensions is behind us”.
“Boom in the Universities”
At the Élysée, where Emmanuel Macron received the executives of the majority and the government on Monday, the head of state nevertheless said he wanted to “continue to reach out to the union forces”, but on other subjects, according to a participant.
The dialogue of the deaf could continue in this way until the decision of the Constitutional Council, expected within three weeks. At the risk of adding tension, when the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, intends to “put some appeasement”.
Many are worried about the “chaos” surrounding since the use of 49.3 to pass the bill. The clashes during the last demonstrations, then the clashes around the basin of Sainte-Soline during the weekend, attest to a deleterious climate.
In this context, at least 150 rallies are planned in France for the tenth day of protest. Surprised by the scale of the mobilization on Thursday – 1.09 million participants according to the Interior, more than 3 million according to the unions – the authorities are counting this time on a total of 650,000 to 900,000 demonstrators, including 70,000 to 100,000 in Paris.
Crowds surrounded by 13,000 police and gendarmes, including 5,500 in the capital, an “unprecedented security device”, underlined at a press conference the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, who called “solemnly each and every calm” and mentioned the possible presence in Paris of “more than 1,000 radical elements”.
In the capital, the procession will connect in the afternoon the place of the Republic to that of the Nation. Accused of violence by the demonstrators, the police are preparing to face “a much larger presence of young people”, according to a police source who predicts “a doubling or even a tripling” of their number compared to the previous mobilizations.
“The 49.3 has made a lot of people curious,” explains Gwenn Birrier, 20, a student at SciencesPo Bordeaux who took part in a general meeting on Monday on a campus that has been occupied for several days.
“Since the adoption of 49.3, it’s been a boom in the universities,” confirms Marion Beauvalet, 26, who blocked her Paris-Dauphine establishment on Monday morning with other members of the Alternative union. Similar actions are expected to multiply on Tuesday in universities and high schools.