Strike: Between “Yellow Vests” and Big Debate, CGT and FO Want to Make their Voices Heard

The unions have called for strike action this Tuesday

CGT and FO are on strike, trying to voice this Tuesday 19th March, 2019 their claims on purchasing power. Disturbances are to be expected in the public and the private sector.

CGT and FO , who boycotted the big debate, will try to make their claims on purchasing power heard on Tuesday during a day of action that takes place three days after the violence of “yellow vests” and a massive demonstration to the climate.

Solidarity, the FSU and youth organisations UNEF (students) and UNL (high school students) have also called to participate in this national inter-professional mobilisation that will affect both the public and private to “amplify the social movement.” The Communist Party also announced its participation.

In Paris, the demonstrators will march from Boulevard Saint-Michel to the Champ-de-Mars from 1 pm, with Philippe Martinezfor the CGT and Yves Veyrier for FO.

Eclipsed for four months by the “yellow vests” and not having participated in the great debate initiated by the executive, the two unions hope to return to the forefront by demonstrations and strikes.

“We are determined to mobilize because we do not want to be spectators, or guarantor of decisions that could be made in social matters at the end of the great debate,” said Yves Veyrier. In particular, he considers it necessary to “rehabilitate the strike”, which was not used by “yellow vests”, whereas “it makes it possible to force employers to sit down at the table”.

Similarly, the CGT wants to “put the debate where it should be”, including “actions in the company and on the street” while “for several weeks, issues of purchasing power (and therefore wages) , tax justice, access to public services are clearly posed.

On the last day on February 5, the Ministry of the Interior had identified 137,200 demonstrators and the CGT nearly 300,000. Force Ouvrière militants were present in these demonstrations but not the confederation as such, weakened in recent months by its internal crisis marked by the departure of Pascal Pavageau, the predecessor of Yves Veyrier.

This day was also marked by the presence for the first time in the processions of trade unions “yellow vests”, a “beginning of convergence” which had delighted the CGT.

Primary strike

Without advancing figures for Tuesday, the number one FO said to have “very good echoes of the mobilisation” even if “it would have had more force” with the participation of other unions, including the CFDT.

As in previous years, the first French trade union, which has chosen to participate in the great debate, will not join this day of action whose judgements it considers too scattered.

In particular, mobilisation should be strong in primary education, where the main union, Snuipp-FSU, expects four out of ten teachers in schools to be unclassified.

Yellow vests and CGT activists mingled with Perpignan on February 5, 2019.
Yellow vests and CGT activists mingled with Perpignan on February 5, 2019. (© AFP / Archives / RAYMOND ROIG

Teachers “seized this day to protest against the direction of educational policy,” said Francette Popineau, general secretary of the union, including the lack of resources from the three-year schooling requirement passed in the draft law “on the school of trust”. Crèches, after-school receptions and school canteens could also be affected depending on the municipality.

In transport, however, traffic will be normal to the SNCF and almost normal to the RATP , according to the directions of the two companies.

The Pôle emploi unions also called for a strike to protest against job cuts at the public operator.

Three days after the violence and looting on the Champs-Elysées, the good run of the Paris event will also be closely followed. Édouard Philippe announced Monday night the ban to demonstrate “whenever necessary”, in the neighborhoods “most affected”, “as soon as we will know elements + ultras + and their will to break.”

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