After a record mobilization on Tuesday, March 7, the inter-union wants to support the pressure with a new strike day this Saturday, the seventh since the start of the mobilization on January 19, 2023. Organizers are counting on another show of force from the streets as a decisive week begins: one in which the government hopes to see the final adoption of the reform.
The last day of the demonstration, which drew between 1.28 (Ministry of the Interior) and 3.5 million French (according to the organizers), was not enough to push back the vote on the bill, and not even for Emmanuel Macron to perceive it as unions demand. Following an accelerated vote in the Senate, a joint committee is due to meet in the coming days. The final vote will take place in both houses on Sunday, March 26, at midnight. The threat of another 49.3 still looms if the government does not find a majority of MPs who will approve the text.
A million people waiting for the police on the streets
Participation this Saturday could range from 800,000 to one million people, scattered across 230 demonstrations in France, police said. Between 70,000 and 100,000 people are expected in Paris, where traffic will start again at 14:00 from Place de la République to Place de la Nation. In most major cities, processions leave from 13:30 to 14:30, for example, in Montpellier, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Nantes or Bordeaux. In Toulouse, Nice or Strasbourg, demonstrators have been banging on sidewalks since 10:30 am.
This Saturday will be the second day of mobilization during the weekend so that employees can participate without requiring a day of strike. According to the Ministry of the Interior, 963,000 people took to the streets on February 11, while according to the CGT, more than 2.5 million people took to the streets. The union is already calling for an eighth round on Wednesday 15 March.
Transport still disrupted nationally, less so in Paris
The transport sector remains one of the most mobilized. After an already chaotic week for users, traffic forecasts for the weekend are “still heavily disrupted” with half of Inoui and Ouigo’s TGVs removed, as well as 60% of TER, according to SNCF. It also urges its users to “cancel or postpone their trips this weekend.” High-speed traffic will be particularly reduced on the Northern and Atlantic routes, with 60% of trains eliminated, while the East, Southeast and Wigo routes will have one train out of two.
At RATP, the blockages subside on the fifth day of the renewed strike. Traffic will be “normal except for a few lines” of the Paris metro, with two of three trains scheduled on line 11 in the afternoon and three of four trains on line 6 also in the afternoon. As in previous days, bus and tram networks will operate as usual. According to Régie, RER A and B will remain “broken”. Today there will be only one of two trains on RER A and two of three on RER B (with connection interruption at Gare du Nord).
Since Tuesday, after the first day of the strike, the situation in Parisian transport has improved, indicating a rather weak mobilization among RATP agents, in contrast to the 2019 strike against the previous pension reform project.
In terms of air transport, the strike of controllers has prompted the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) to demand that airlines cancel 20% of flights scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday at several airports, in particular “at the start and arrival from the airports of Paris-Orly, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes and Bordeaux.
Lockdowns continue in energy and fuel
Renewed strikes have continued or intensified in several sectors since March 7. The situation at refineries is different. Esso-ExxonMobil in Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhone) has again been blocked since Friday afternoon, as has TotalEnergies in Donge, near Saint-Nazaire. The nearby TotalEnergies refinery in La Meda also remained on lockdown on Friday, while the Petroineos refinery is also set to remain on lockdown until Monday morning, according to CGT.
With regard to power generation, one of the main weapons of the strikers, today CGT Energie mentioned new voluntary power outages and gas strikes at all LNG terminals and storage facilities. Since March 7, CGT Mines-Energie has announced a reduction in production throughout France. On March 7 alone, the strikers got their hands on 21,000 megawatts (MW) of EDF-generated electricity, including 13,000 MW from thermal and nuclear power plants (the equivalent of a dozen power plants) and 8,000 MW from hydroelectric power plants, according to the union. in dams. Lower production figures that would be more moderate during the week.
Faced with government silence, unions are warning against the always possible tightening in this sector, which represents an important lever of pressure. “For several days, there have been voices saying that as the government remains deaf, we must act more actively,” Fabrice Coudour, general secretary of CGT Energie, warned on Friday.