Social climate: Tuesday’s mobilization will be a test

Posted Oct 16, 2022 5:45 PMUpdated on Oct 16, 2022 at 7:12 PM

Will the conflict at TotalEnergies be the spark that will ignite the social climate? He certainly helped to swell the ranks of the “march against high cost of living and climate inaction” organized by the Nupes on Sunday afternoon in Paris, which brought together 29,500 people according to the count of the cabinet Occurrence, mandated by a collective of media including “Les Echos”. But it is the union mobilization next Tuesday, at the call of the CGT, Force Ouvrière, FSU and Solidaires which will have test value.

While no confederation has joined the appeal of the left, this initiative signals the will of the trade union movement to mark its independence vis-à-vis political forces and its ability to weigh. On Tuesday, the organizations of employees intend to push the wage claim and protest against the attack on the right to strike which constitute for them the requisitions of employees of the refineries and depots decided by the government.

Mark his independence

This meeting partly explains the continuation of the blockage at TotalEnergies, as it would have appeared offbeat if it had accompanied a return to normal. But the continuation of their movement by some of the strikers is also due to the fact that the threat of requisition has increased their anger. Without preventing a slight improvement on the fuel shortage side.

The union appeal of October 18 was grafted onto a date which the CGT was already planning to make a new highlight of mobilization, after the – small – day of action of September 29, on which only the FSU and Solidaires were associated. The participation of Force Ouvrière will make Tuesday’s poster more consistent in addition to the fact that, this time, the railway workers have decided to go all out. Other traditional strongholds of the CGT will also be there, such as EDF.


While for a very long time caution has been called for in calls for days of action, the leader of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, has not called for a general strike, which he knows well cannot be decreed. , but to “generalize the strike”. Just like the fact of no longer participating in discussions with the government, on pensions as on unemployment insurance, this can only be sweet to the ears of his ultras. A detail that counts, knowing that, during the congress of the organization in March 2023, it is not sure to succeed in imposing its candidate, Marie Buisson.

Tuesday’s mobilization will certainly be an opportunity for the CGT to remind the executive of its firepower and tell it that, even if the CFDT has taken first place from it, it must be reckoned with. A difficult situation in transport is therefore to be expected. But what will happen next?

Valuing the gains of negotiation

What is certain is that the social climate is very tense. The fact that many employers will soon have their professional elections contributes to this. In the civil service, they will take place at the beginning of December; in the private sector, most of them will take place by the end of 2023, following the reform of the Labor Code in 2017. But, if in the public service the situation is not explosive, “we feels a real discontent among the employees, ”insists a trade unionist engaged in the mobilization on Tuesday without talking about a big night.

“We must distinguish between companies whose situation is good and which refuse to grant substantial increases, and there Total can give ideas, from those which are in difficulty or confronted with major uncertainties”, notes another, who surprised that the CGT of the oil group did not value the gains of the negotiation. This does not necessarily constitute the breeding ground for a national mobilization.

Be that as it may, the rise in social tensions caused by the conflict at ExxonMobil and Total could have consequences on another issue: that of pensions. “We would have waited a bit,” admits a trade unionist. The latter fears to burn cartridges for a future mobilization, while the government has chosen to open a consultation which has not yet addressed the angry subjects. At the same time, the current eruptive climate could also encourage the executive to be cautious about its reform.

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