March 23, 2023

Pensions: the unions are betting on a revival of the challenge

Until the end, the unions will have maintained the pressure on the deputies. Two hours before the start of the examination in the National Assembly of the pension reform project resulting from the CMP, under a bright sun, all their number ones found themselves facing the Bourbon Palace to ask parliamentarians “solemnly to vote against ” the text. For the follow-up they intended to give to their mobilization after the decline noted for their eighth day of action, Wednesday, each then referred to later without further details.

The union leaders finally met at the end of the day at the CGT headquarters to discuss it. Initially, it was not necessary to make noise about this appointment. Because a vote of the deputies, even ric-rac, would have complicated the discussions on the methods of continuation of the movement. The use of 49.3 reshuffled the cards. So much so that the decision was finally made to hold a collective press conference, the second of the day!

Two press conferences in one day

A new date for the demonstration, the ninth, was announced on this occasion to “continue to demand the withdrawal” of a “brutal, unjust and unjustified” reform. It will be next Thursday, March 23. Employee organizations are also calling this weekend for “local gatherings”.

To cross a new mobilization threshold? It is in any case the hope that is caressed. “The challenge is extremely strong, we already have a lot of reactions from the union teams,” said Laurent Berger, shortly after the announcement by Elisabeth Borne of 49.3.

The reasoning of the inter-union is as follows: the polls show a massive rejection of the reform by public opinion and even more so by the assets; they also report major support for the protest; but the French, at least until now, still overwhelmingly believe that the reform will come into force. This is what restricts the crowds at the parades, while the anger is there, think the unions.

The bet is that the use of 49.3 will remove this obstacle (even if concretely it leads to the final adoption of the text, except for a motion of censure which is unlikely).

The failure of the President of the Republic

The use of this article of the Constitution would be a “democratic vice”, had already warned Laurent Berger a few days ago. It would be a “breach in democracy” on the “mother of reforms”, denounced Philippe Martinez before the Assembly. But for the unions, this decision is also a defeat for the executive. “Our appeal to parliamentarians not to vote for the reform has been heard”, welcomes Frédéric Souillot, the general secretary of Force Ouvrière.

“If there had not been 49.3, there would have been a vote against”, assures François Hommeril, the president of the CFE-CGC. And this thanks to the “exemplary social movement which demonstrates that the President of the Republic and his government are in check before the National Assembly”, insists the joint press release which underlines the “support of the population”.

“For more than a week, in government, within the parliamentary group [Renaissance] we keep saying that we want to go to the vote, it is the demonstration that there is no majority in the National Assembly to vote for the reform”, also believes Laurent Berger. It is also the demonstration that “we do not make political compromises when we want to transform the lives of workers, we make social compromises”.

The joint declaration, on the other hand, is silent on a weapon already mentioned by several union leaders previously: that of the referendum. “It is not yet the moment and moreover, it is in the hands first of all of parliamentarians”, underlines a trade unionist. But on that side, the news for the next few days are the motions of censure.

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