The representatives of the main French trade unions, on January 10, 2023 in Paris, at the end of their meeting after the presentation of the pension reform (AFP / JULIEN DE ROSA)
France’s eight major unions announced on Tuesday a first date for mobilizing against the pension reform on January 19, hoping it would “launch a powerful pensions mobilization over time”.
The number one of these organizations (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Unsa, Solidaires, FSU) met at the Labor Exchange at the end of the afternoon, following the announcement by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne of the postponement of the the legal age at 64 years.
“The pay-as-you-go pension system is not in danger, nothing justifies such a brutal reform”, which “will hit all workers hard, and more particularly those who started working earlier, the more precarious (…) those whose hardship of the trades is not recognized”, they explained in a joint press release, read by the general secretary of the CFDT, Laurent Berger.
The eight organizations will meet on the evening of Thursday 19 “with the youth organizations to extend the mobilization movement and agree on other initiatives”, they specify.
“To counter this reform, which is unfair to male and female workers, I invite you and all the unions to mobilize on January 19 everywhere in France,” insisted Mr. Berger into the journalists’ microphone.
“When we have all the trade union organizations of workers but also of young people against such a measure, this should make us think normally,” added his CGT counterpart, Philippe Martinez.
In the evening, the whole left, from the socialists to the LFI, called to join the trade union mobilization.
The inter-union meeting has been meeting at regular intervals since June, anxious to show its unity in the face of the radical reform of the President of the Republic. Union unity without precedent for 12 years and the mobilization against the reform carried out by Eric Woerth, who had raised the statutory retirement age from 60 to 62.
– “Element of Trust” –
How long will this unity, key to the success of the mobilizations in the eyes of Philippe Martinez, last? Instructed by experience, union officials suspect that the “reformist” unions, first and foremost the CFDT, want to get out quickly from a street mobilization with which they find themselves uncomfortable.
For the former secretary general of the CGT, Bernard Thibault, “there are all the ingredients for the mobilization to be very strong” (AFP / NICOLAS TUCAT)
Interviewed by AFP, historian specializing in trade unionism Stéphane Sirot observes that the CFDT is “very legalistic”, and that the conclusion of an agreement in Parliament, with the right, risks having “an impact (…) on trade union mobilization” . “We saw it during the 2010 movement: when the law was approved, the CFDT recognized that it was time to stop the mobilization days,” he recalled.
Elsewhere, on the left of the union spectrum, officials envision mobilization in two phases, with staging two or even three big mobilization days before the February holiday, then taking office in a “harder” movement all beginning of March.
In any case, the success or otherwise of the movement will be “a form of truth test for the trade unions”, observes Stéphane Sirot. “If they lose that fight again, if they get nothing on the pension issue, it will be difficult for them to deal with the consequences.”
For the former secretary general of the CGT, Bernard Thibault, questioned on Tuesday by AFP, “there are all the ingredients for the mobilization to be very strong. Firstly, because the very principle of this reform is rejected by a large majority of the population ( . ..) Then because we are witnessing an unusual union unity which suggests that the unions can win this battle”.