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Strikes against the pension reform: should we worry about the winter holidays?


The Gare de l’Est, in Paris, in December 2019, during the major strike movement at the SNCF against Emmanuel Macron’s previous pension reform project. Martin BUREAU / AFP

At the SNCF, in the oil sector or the ski lifts, we are already thinking of the post-mobilization of January 31. Strikes, for some renewable, hover over the holidays of the French.

Does the movement of strikes and demonstrations against the pension reform threaten the February holidays? This scenario is not excluded, given the firmness of the government, to which the unions respond with an always united front.

On the set of the Grand Jury RTL-LCI-Le Figaro Sunday, Philippe Martinez thus opened the door to new mobilizations during the holidays. “From the moment the government insists on what is in conflict, yes, there is a possibility that there will be days of action during school holidays.“, declared the general secretary of the CGT. As a reminder, the winter holidays are not the same depending on the three zones (A, B and C). They are thus spread over a month. This year, they extend from February 4 (for the start of the holidays in zone A) to March 6 (end of the holidays in zone C).

SEE ALSO – Transport, schools, ski resorts…: what to expect for the January 31 strike?

Asked this Wednesday about the possibility of days of action during the holidays, Laurent Berger preferred to evacuate the question. “We are not on vacation yet! Today, what is important is the mobilization of 31 (January). On the evening of the 31st, we (the unions) will come together to decide together what we do. For the rest, I have no comment.“, annoyed the boss of the CFDT during a press briefing, in front of the National Assembly, alongside the seven other union leaders.

Towards a renewable strike at the SNCF “from mid-February”?

Despite everything, some sectors are already looking beyond the next day of inter-union and inter-professional mobilization on January 31. This is the case for example at the SNCF. The CGT Cheminots and SUD-Rail said on Tuesday that they wanted to multiply the days of action in the coming weeks. The employees will decide after the day of action on January 31: the trade union organizations are indeed proposing a “streak of two consecutive days of strike“, on Tuesday 7 and Wednesday 8 February, just after the start of the school holidays for zone A. Then, another mobilization could take the form of a “strike renewable by periods of 24 hours“, considered “from mid-February“. What potentially disrupt the departures on vacation of the inhabitants of zones B and C of the Hexagon, which start respectively on February 11 and 18. But also, perhaps, returns from vacation.

The scenario of the previous social movement against a pension reform, which at the SNCF had lasted for long weeks between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, will it be repeated? At the time, the four representative unions CFDT Cheminots, SUD-Rail, UNSA Ferroviaire and CGT Cheminots had all called for a renewable strike. For the time being, only the CGT Cheminots has said that it is in favor of such a mode of action. SUD-Rail being “not closed in principle“, while the UNSA Ferroviaire and the CFDT Cheminots “did not wish to follow up on this proposal for the time being“.

SEE ALSO – Pensions: CGT Cheminots and SUD-Rail propose a renewable strike “from mid-February”

Strikes in the oil sector, but no risk of shortage

The railway is not the only sector which gives rise to concerns: for holidaymakers who would choose to go to their holiday resort by car, the mobilization against the pension reform also raises the question of fuel supplies. Indeed, in addition to a 48-hour strike for this Thursday, January 26, the oil branch of the CGT has already called for a 72-hour strike on February 6, i.e. at the start of the school holidays in zone A. At this date will be offered to oil workers a “renewable strike” with “if necessary, shutdown of refining facilities“, Can we read in the press release of the CGT federation.

For the time being, players in the sector such as the government want to be reassuring, ruling out any risk of shortage. “The stocks exist, they have been replenished since the (social) movement of the fall“, declared the Minister of Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher on Franceinfo on January 13. “We have virtually a month’s supply of fuel“, Estimated the same day on France Bleu Francis Pousse, president of the service station branch of the professional union Mobilians, while calling not to give in to “full of precaution“. “Stocks in depots and service stations are at a satisfactory level“, confirmed TotalEnergies on Wednesday.

The ski lifts also affected

Winter sports enthusiasts who have reached their holiday resort will not be spared either. In ski resorts, the social movement against pension reform could potentially spoil the stays of the French, while the two main ski lift unions, the CGT and Force Ouvrière (FO), have filed an “unlimited” strike notice from January 31. “We decided to call a strike during the February holidays, because the demands will be better heard during this period”acknowledged Eric Becker, FO general secretary of ski lifts.

Although unlimited, this strike notice does not mean that these facilities will be shut down indefinitely. The idea is to “allow seasonal workers to participate in the next day of mobilization against the pension reform (after January 31), which should be decided for a day in February”, explained Eric Becker. And therefore to stick to the dates of interprofessional mobilization. However, the CGT leaves all latitude to the agents. “For us, the strikers decide the terms of the strike“, said Tuesday on BFMTV Pierre Scholl, national representative of the ski lifts. What arouse the ire of the government: on France Bleu Pays de Savoie on Tuesday, the Minister Delegate for Tourism Olivia Grégoire called “respecting tourist holidays but also respecting all the work done by the economic players in the mountains“.

SEE ALSO – Strike of January 19: scuffles between police and demonstrators at the arrival of the procession Place de la Nation in Paris



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