Social climate: after weak mobilization, the government is focusing on fuels

Posted Oct 18, 2022 7:18 PM

Two days after the march to mixed success of the Nupes, the interprofessional strike the call of the CGT, Force Ouvrière, the FSU and Solidaires was more successful by its prior media echo than by the extent of the disturbances and the processions. Despite a social context weighed down by inflation and the lack of gasoline, the mobilization has not started, when the executive plans to call on the army to supply strategic sites. The Ministry of the Interior counted 107,000 demonstrators throughout France (including 13,000 in Paris), against 118,000 on September 29, which was already a low water level (the CGT claimed 300,000 demonstrators on Tuesday).

In Paris, the main demonstration hardly mobilized outside the core of militants. On the banner at the head of the procession, the two main demands: remuneration and, in response to requisitions in depots and refineries, respect for the right to strike. “We need a boost to the SMIC and restore the sliding scale of wages, it is the most urgent,” said the leader of the CGT, Philippe Martinez.

“Creating a balance of power for pensions”

“The social movement […] knows how to mobilize in a few days. This is likely to create a balance of power for pensions, ”added the secretary general of the FSU, Benoit Teste. Co-general delegate of Solidaires, Murielle Guilbert, denounced the speech of the executive which, between calling on the bosses to increase wages and threats of requisitions, does not “pass into public opinion”.

Outside the cobblestones, the disturbances were almost zero in the Paris metro, more marked in the RER. The situation was more difficult at the SNCF in the TER. The Ministry of National Education reported a little less than 10% of strikers at midday.

Spurred on by strong opposition to the reform wanted by Emmanuel Macron, the staff of vocational high schools have responded more present. In the civil service, wage negotiations will take place in early 2023.

The fact that the call was launched only very recently and that the other confederations did not engage has undoubtedly weighed. It is therefore difficult to predict whether the movement will continue over time, as Philippe Martinez wishes.

“Unpopular movement”

The number one of FO, Frédéric Souillot, also recalled that the general strike is a matter of “incantation”. Salary issues are as close to the field as possible, he added, referring like his peers to the results of general meetings here and there. At SNCF, management reported a “gradual return to normal” on Wednesday.

On the government side, in addition to the weak mobilization in the streets, the Elabe poll for BFMTV published Tuesday morning on the social climate did not go unnoticed. According to the survey, 49% of French people disapprove of this interprofessional mobilization and 39% approve. “The movement is not popular, it’s a game of two between Philippe Martinez and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to find out who mobilizes more”, advances a minister, who recognizes however that the government remains “extremely cautious”. The slightest match can go off”.

“There is no great social evening, but the risk would be isolated movements on corporations which mess up the situation”, reassured a government source.

Noticeable improvement

This Tuesday, the government has therefore mainly worked to show that it is acting on a subject of tension which worries and annoys the French more according to him: the fuel crisis. “It is absolutely necessary to lower the concern”, insists a minister. At the Assembly, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne justified the requisitions in the face of blockages after the signing of majority agreements at Esso-ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies. “While families are worried a few days before All Saints […] it is time for work to resume, ”she said, noting however a “significant improvement” in service stations.

Since September 21, 900,000 cubic meters of fuel have been released from strategic stocks, insisted the Minister for Ecological Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, to counter the accusations of ignition delay. In addition to the effort required of the prefects to accelerate the supply of the stations, it is envisaged that the service of the essences of the armies will be mobilized to serve certain industrial and agricultural entities.

The government has clearly noted in the opinion polls a surge of anger on this subject, which it does not want to see backfired on it.

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