They don’t leave each other anymore. Once again, on Tuesday January 31, the leaders of the eight French unions will all be there, in the lead procession of the Parisian demonstration, with the aim of amplifying the first successful mobilization against the pension reform, on January 19.
No one would have bet on the formation of such a union unit a few months ago. Then the Cassandres announced a flash in the pan. But the collective holds. “Everyone is extremely careful not to damage the movement”, summarizes François Hommeril, president of the CFE-CGC.
First French union
The Laurent Berger plant is not the only craftsman, but it occupies a central place. “If the mobilization is at this level, it is also because it is in it”, notes François Hommeril. In 2019, against Emmanuel Macron’s attempt at systemic reform, supported by the CFDT, the mobilization had been much less strong.
But if the CFDT is also more visible than in 2010, when the legal retirement age was raised from 60 to 62, it is because it has gained weight in the inter-union. It has been more than four years since it earned its stripes as the first French union at the expense of the CGT until then, without concrete translation. It is already established that this conflict will have installed it at the center of the social landscape. One event symbolizes this: it was its general secretary, Laurent Berger, who read the joint declaration to the Labor Exchange on January 10 on behalf of everyone, and this speech did not cause debate between the organisations, including understood with the general secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez.
Not the only spokesperson
The CFDT is not the only spokesperson for the movement, far from it. All the union leaders multiply the public expressions. But the battle crystallizes in the media in the confrontation between the executive and the central. Emmanuel Macron versus Laurent Berger.
Last example dated Saturday January 28th. In an interview with the “World”, published in the morning, Laurent Berger judged that it “needs one or two more demonstrations of force” for the government “to become aware of the powerful rejection that its text arouses”. Looking towards the street but also towards the passage to Parliament, which starts this Monday, Elisabeth Borne replied to him in the evening on Franceinfo that the postponement of the starting age to 64 years “is no longer negotiable”.
Anyone who would deduce a pyramidal vision of the inter-union would however be making a mistake. “We are all doing everything to make it go well,” explains Dominique Corona, in charge of pensions at Unsa. The engine of this dynamic can be found in the relationships of trust woven by Laurent Berger and Philippe Martinez, even when they were in open conflict.
“As long as they get along well, they will be able to anticipate small fractures,” said a member of the inter-union, referring to “leadership without hegemonic vision”. The dynamic was reinforced by the attitude of Force Ouvrière, which, with Yves Veyrier as with Frédéric Souillot, his successor elected in June, is convinced of the interest of the unitary approach and “knows how to put binders”.
The sensitive subject of modes of action
At the forefront of sensitive subjects, there is, however, that of the methods of action. Historically, the CFDT is attached to spaced mobilization days, with if possible a Saturday for the “second lines”, while at the CGT we advocate the blocking of the country and many are hostile to the “leapfrog” days. However, there was no confrontation on the subject in the inter-union.
Marie Buisson, whom Philippe Martinez wishes to see succeed him at the head of the CGT, explained why on France Inter, a few days ago: “Of course we need strikes, but it is not at the headquarters of the trade union organizations that [ça se décrète], it’s not so easy to lose a day’s wages. »
Step by step
The choice to move forward step by step without corseting the initiatives and the success of January 19 has reinforced the unions in this process. “We decide together what we do together… In the meantime, of course, everyone plays their part and no one is obliged to share it,” said Laurent Berger on Saturday.
He explained that at the CFDT “we think that the level of trade union efficiency is not measured by the level of concrete hassles for citizens”. For the moment, this subject is not one, the renewable strike is approached with extreme caution by the most angry unions, such as the CGT-petroleum or their fellow railway workers, who return its examination in ten days. As for energy cégétistes, instead of power cuts, they ultimately preferred to revive the Robin Hoods and reduce the bills of certain users.