Strike Against Pension Reform: General Anger
The anti-pension reform movement is not weakening, with a second mobilization day on January 31st. If the text supported by the government is the main goal, the mobilization is also an accumulation of many demands among the demonstrators.
This Tuesday, like Thursday 19 January, hundreds of thousands of French people will take to the streets across the country to demonstrate their opposition to the pension reform. However, among the speeches, slogans or posters that will be put forward, there will be many that do not aim at the development of the retirement age, but at demands for purchasing power, inequalities or even the crisis of the hospital.
Indeed, the massive mobilization against government reform has crystallized around them the difficulties of the moment. Also resentment against the President. “It’s a phenomenon that isn’t emphasized enough,” says Bruno Cautrès, political scientist, member of Cevipof and researcher at the CNRS. “The movement says a lot more than just pension reform. And that also explains why the communication cannot convince the executive.
Rising food prices, rising gas and energy bills, the hospital sector in crisis, teachers in trouble, inequalities highlighted… For some, the reasons for the protest are piling up.
“Fight more globally against a social project that doesn’t suit us at all”
“Pension reform is the final straw that breaks everything,” Christelle, a 46-year-old teacher who was present at the procession in Nice on January 19, told AFP. “Our working conditions are getting worse, we talk about the uniform but we don’t talk about the numbers in our classes and I don’t see myself when I’m 64 or older. You have to get the money where it is. When we see the dividends paid to the shareholders of large companies, we are laughed at.
“It was important to come today (January 19, ed.), but it’s a whole, we can’t live with the price increase,” Catherine, a job seeker in Paris, was alarmed on the same day.
Some of the youth fell into the breach. “If we’re here, it’s also to fight, more generally, against a social project that doesn’t suit us at all,” Emma, a nursing student, told Radio France. “Young people today are stressed during their studies because they are extremely precarious. The ecological turnaround we are not there at all. We don’t even know when we’re going to retire. It’s a general weariness on the part of youth.
Emmanuel Macron in sight
As early as mid-January, the Institut Montaigne had sensed this pension-related anger: “We are confronted with a collective dynamic that goes well beyond the simple pension issue and that reflects a broader political crisis – distrust of governments, general sense of injustice – undoubtedly accompanied by a Sort of numbing in terms of the state of public finances,” described the liberal think tank.
“The theme is iconic and very symbolic. The question of pensions is also about work and the relation to inequalities, to hardships or long careers, ”continues Bruno Cautrès. “People who demonstrate do so in a more general capacity. We see it in their slogans, there are a number of demands.” And also to point out the distrust of this faction of the French towards the President. “People have a memory, they react to the accumulation of small penalties since the first five-year term. For part of the opinion, Emmanuel Macron is France doing well, an executive strong and not understanding France struggling. And then there’s still a small legacy of Yellow Vests.
This Tuesday’s mobilization will provide new clues to this additional anger. Another success with the public would have cause for concern for the board.