On April 14, 2023, Emmanuel Macron promulgated the text of the pension reform after the verdict of the Constitutional Council. The Elders validated most of the reform, including the postponement of the retirement age from 62 to 64. Other articles such as the Senior CDI have been censored. This decision angered the French, trade unions and opposition politicians. Thus, an improvised demonstration took place.
Faced with these announcements and the publication of its adoption in the Official Journal, the intersyndicale also met to discuss the next mobilizations. Asked at the microphone of BFMTV during this meeting, Sophie Binet, general secretary of the CGT, announced that the intersyndicale “give[ed] an appointment to all French men and women on May 1”. She then spoke of an “unprecedented exceptional mobilization for a popular tidal wave”. The four SNCF unions also called for two days of “expressing railway anger” on April 20 and 28. As that day approaches, the scenario begins to take shape.
Invited to the morning of RTL Thursday, April 27, Sophie Binet insisted again on the importance of this day of mobilization and its unique aspect. Indeed, “this is the first time that the trade unions have called for demonstrations. It will be family, popular and festive”, she specifies. The objective is therefore to bring together the majority of French people. In addition, she reaffirmed the position of the CGT and other unions. “We must come to our senses and withdraw the pension reform, otherwise there will be no return to normal,” she adds.
The secretary general of the CGT also specified the extent of the demonstrations organized on May 1. Asked Monday April 24 on the BFMTV set, she mentioned the figure of 300 parades throughout France. Even more, according to a note from territorial intelligence to which several media have had access, “80,000 to 100,000 people” are expected in the Parisian procession, reports TF1. This account also mentions the figure of 1,000 to 2,000 “at-risk elements” in the demonstrations. Meanwhile, some sectors are already announcing a strike in their services.
Several strike notices have been filed. Among them, we find that of the air traffic controllers. Indeed, the Union Syndicale de l’Aviation Civile-CGT (USAC-CGT) has set the day of May 1 as well as “the overnight stays upstream and downstream for agents working in staggered hours”, as the union l states on its website. Thus, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) asked airlines to reduce the number of flights by 33% for the airports of Orly, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes and Toulouse. 25% of flights should be canceled in Nice, Beauvais and Roissy. Aviation is not the only transport sector that has announced strikes.
Indeed, the railway sector should also be mobilized for this day of May 1st. For the SNCF, the inter-union of railway workers called on these employees to join this movement to ensure the success of this day of national demonstration. For the occasion, the latter called on reinforcements from abroad.
In an interview for La Marseillaise, Sophie Binet mentioned the presence of other unions. Indeed, “we bring to Paris hundreds of union leaders from all over the world. They will come to show their support for our mobilization”. Thus, the European Trade Union Confederation and the International Trade Union Confederation should be there. But some unions have already prepared the sequel.
Indeed, when Emmanuel Macron announced the “100 days of appeasement”, which would aim to get out of this crisis, the CGT energy reacted by proposing its own program. The union federation announced the “100 days of anger” and actions in major events such as the Cannes Film Festival or Roland-Garros. The unions therefore do not intend to stop at the May 1 strike.