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Pensions: is 1995 still the benchmark for unions in terms of strikes and demonstrations?


Many French people still remember it. During the winter of 1995, officials observed several strike days. Trains and the subway have been paralyzed for more than three weeks. In some places no train runs. To go to their workplace, some do not hesitate to walk, despite the polar cold that hits France at the beginning of December. Others go by bike or carpool.

At the origin of the anger, the presentation, in November, by the prime minister at the time, Alain Juppé, of a social security recovery plan that includes additional fees for the insured and an upheaval of its structures . The planned alignment of the pension plans of civil servants and agents of the civil service with that of employees of the private sector concentrates the discontent.

Public opinion overwhelmingly supports this social movement, according to polls. On November 24, 1995, the first demonstration against the Juppé plan mobilized between 500,000 (according to the police) and 1 million people (according to the unions). At its height, on December 12, the demonstration gathered between one million (according to the police) and two million people (according to the unions). Faced with the scale of the mobilization, Alain Juppé renounces the measures affecting pensions, but keeps the rest of his plan, part of which he ends up abandoning definitively with his departure from Matignon, 18 months later, in June 1997.

“I don’t like the fetishism of past dates,” says Murielle Guilbert of Solidaires

Almost thirty years later, unions expect the French to be as numerous on the streets against Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform. “It will be a very, very strong mobilization. It has to be 1995 level, even in 2010”the number one of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, told France 3 on Sunday.

The victory of 1995, a reference for the unions? In terms of mobilization, there is no doubt: the reference is the “good”, believes Nathalie Verdeil, federal secretary of the CGT. “Obviously, we have in mind the last time we pushed back the government. But we are in 2023, with an even different reform”explains Patricia Devron, Force Ouvrière (FO) confederal secretary.

Also read – Pensions: a million protesters, the bar for a successful mobilization?

“The mobilization of 1995 is one of the great social movements, but it is also not the essential reference, advances Yvan Ricordeau, national secretary of the CFDT, in charge of pensions. And more than then it was a double reform, that of medical insurance and that of special pension schemes. This is not the framework we propose today. »

“I don’t like past date fetishism, says Murielle Guilbert, general co-delegate of Solidaires. Things never happen again exactly, but it is clear that for us the goal is the withdrawal of the reform. » At the CFDT we also explain” build mobilization without historical reference”.

A world of work that has “changed” in 27 years

Although the strikes and demonstrations that led to a union victory remained in the memory, the comparison between the mobilization of 1995 and the one that awaited these next few weeks seems to stop there. “Now it is more complicated for an employee to go on strike and mobilize over time than in 1995”observes Nathalie Verdeil.

Also read – Mathilde Panot on pension reform: ‘We can force the government to back down’

Society has evolved and “The world of work has changed”, recalls the confederal secretary of the CGT. She details these changes: “In 1995 we still had many workers working in companies. Then the big companies were destructured. Many employees do more outsourcing and temporary work with employees whose jobs are geographically dispersed. » Another modification mentioned by the holder of the CGT: the reduction “considerable” in the number of union representatives in companies caused by Macron’s labor orders in 2017.

However, unlike in 1995, when the CFDT supported the government, the unions, this time united for the first time in 13 years, want, again, to bend the executive. “Social movements like the one in 1995 are proof that, united and having a clear slogan, unions have the ability to influence the government’s choices when they are not going in the right direction. advances Yvan Ricordeau. We’re doing everything we can to make that the case in 2023.”

Murielle Guilbert, for her part, evokes the success of the demonstrations against the pension reform of the winter 2019-2020. This mobilization “It has also taught us things about how to mobilize in a unitary way, in any case linking all the sectors in struggle”, explains the general co-delegate of Solidaires. At that time, Covid-19 had definitely sounded the death knell for reform. Three years later, the epidemic is still present, but the unions cannot count on it to get the text withdrawn.

Source : Le JDD



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