Against its pension reform, and in particular the extension of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, the government will have succeeded in uniting all the unions against it. “A rather exceptional performance: it has not happened for twenty years,” confided the secretary general of the CGT Philippe Martinez a few days ago to the specialized agency AEF info. “I told Élisabeth Borne that she could put on her CV that she had succeeded in unifying the union movement! »
During his first attempt at reform, Emmanuel Macron had been able to count on the support of the reformist unions, CFDT in the lead, from which he took up the old demand to completely overhaul the pension system. Support conditional on not extending working hours. “By introducing a pivotal age at 64, Édouard Philippe has strongly antagonized the CFDT”, underlines a former cedist official.
Since then, mistrust has grown between the first union in France and the successive governments of Emmanuel Macron. “Internally, the president’s way of governing, his contempt for intermediary bodies is not appreciated,” points out an observer from the trade union movement. “And this was strongly expressed last June during the Lyon congress. »
“Many can’t take it anymore and are already leaving before”
On this occasion, the activists had amended the final resolution, expressly rejecting any possibility for the CFDT to deal with the executive with any new age measure, postponement of the legal age of departure or even adjustment of the contribution period. A line that has strengthened its secretary general, Laurent Berger, in his determination to oppose the government.
It must be said that this measure, emblematic of the reform presented Tuesday evening by Élisabeth Borne, will strongly affect the so-called “second line” workers, highlighted during the health crisis and whom the CFDT is committed to representing: cleaning staff, cashiers, home helps… The cleanliness union is also the one that brings together the most members within the confederation.
“For cashiers or those on the shelves, two more years is huge. We have a difficult job and many can’t take it anymore and are already leaving, ”warns Patricia Virfolet, CFDT union representative at Monoprix, worried about the government’s lack of eagerness to move forward on the arduousness or the chopped careers of women. This explains why the CFDT is so keen to discuss these issues with the government.
“The CFDT has never had any positive feedback for its responsible attitude”
“But we have always been clear: there was never any question for us of negotiating compensation for postponing the age, which is unacceptable for us. We said it eye to eye to the minister, ”insists Mylène Jacquot, general secretary of the CFDT-public functions.
In the discussions, the government’s calls for accountability towards Laurent Berger will above all have been perceived as so many clumsy pressures. “Comparing him to Nicole Notat or François Chérèque, the man of the ‘acceptable compromise’ during the 2003 reform, was unproductive, observes a former cedist official. What did we have to gain? Since 2017, the CFDT has never had any positive feedback for its responsible attitude. »
It is therefore united as ever that the unions were to meet on Tuesday evening to define “a first date of mobilization with strike and demonstrations”, as announced on December 5th. “If for Emmanuel Macron it is the mother of reforms, for us it is the mother of battles”, repeats Frédéric Souillot, general secretary of Force Ouvrière.
The government is counting on the weariness of the population
But will the mobilization take? “The French have already been subjected to a whole series of irritants: inflation, problems with doctors, Christmas strikes… It is difficult to say whether this reform will be a detonator”, recognizes Raymond Soubie, former social adviser to Jacques Chirac. and Raymond Barre at Matignon, then Nicolas Sarkozy at the Élysée for which he piloted the pension reform of 2010 and the passage from 60 to 62 years of the legal age of departure.
For this wise observer of the social situation, the risk comes above all from the public sectors capable of blocking society: SNCF, RATP, EDF, whose special regimes are targeted by the government. “For them, the disappearance of the special regime for new entrants is added to the gradual erasure of the status and the competition: it’s a whole world that is collapsing”, he warns, confident in the fact that the government will be able to open negotiations in the various companies concerned to demine.
“In the absence of a union agreement, the government can however take advantage of a political agreement with the Republicans: it can therefore show that it has been able to listen”, notes Raymond Soubie again. To short-circuit the deadlocks of the strikes, the executive is also counting on the development of telework, as on a certain weariness of the population.
“So there will be a lot of people in the street”
“In 2010, we conducted daily opinion polls vis-à-vis the movement and the CGT, says Raymond Soubie. I passed them on to Bernard Thibault and it was he who changed the course of things when it became impossible. But he had an authority that Philippe Martinez no longer has, two months before the congress which will appoint his successor. The movement of this fall in the refineries has also shown the difficulty for the CGT to hold its troops.
Unions could nevertheless make a difference. On a subject that brings them together, the CGTists will thus have no state of mind to parade alongside the CGTists who were shouting at them not long ago. Including in private. “Commercial employees will be present in the demonstrations, warns Patricia Virfolet. This reform will affect a lot of people: there will therefore be a lot of people in the street. »
For Raymond Soubie, the big difference with the movement of 2010, which although massive had taken place without violence, also comes from the modification of the mode of expression of the dispute. “At the time, we had neither the ‘black blocks’ nor the constitution of collectives outside the unions, he recalls. It’s an additional risk. »
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