December 17, 2019 is a high-risk day for the government, which will have to give up on its pension reform to avoid plunging the country into chaos.
Tuesday, December 17 will be a dark day. Another day of hardship for the French with the call for a national strike in many public and private sectors and major demonstrations in Paris and many provincial cities.
After the mobilizations of 5 and 10 December 2019, the CGT, FO, FSU and Solidaires trade unions and the youth organisations MNL, UNEF and UNL, joined by the CFDT and UNSA, intend to make the government bend after Edouard Philippe’s announcements which, it must be acknowledged, have upset everyone. Including the most reformist unions.
The strikers will be joined by the angry retirees and the yellow vests. Add to this social cocktail a few black-blocks and the whole thing could become explosive.
From Republic to Nation
The Paris Prefect of Police understood this well. He has just asked the traders located on the route between the Republic and the Nation to close their shops on that day. The authorities fear overflows in the procession, which already promises to be very large.
To avoid breakage, the Prefect of Police also prohibited the parking of vehicles between Monday midnight (16/12/19) and Tuesday (17/12) at 8 p.m. as well as “rallies of people claiming to be yellow vests” on Avenue des Champs-Elysées, around the Presidency of the Republic, Matignon, the National Assembly and Notre-Dame de Paris.
Other rallies are planned in many provincial cities, as was the case on December 5 when nearly one million people (800,000 according to the Interior) marched through the streets. In Nancy, the parade will start from Place de la République at 1:30 p.m.
Leading the protest, the railway workers who have been on strike since December 5 are calling for a toughening of the movement. Little or no TGV, Intercités or TER on the tracks. At RATP, another key point of opposition to pension reform, the situation is clearer: no RER or metro will be running.
Under these conditions, the capital will be completely paralyzed or even suffocated on the eve of the end of the year celebration.
Especially since other sectors are joining the strike movement. Road transport operators will disengage from Monday 16 December at the request of the main trade unions. Not because of pension reform but because of demands for working conditions and wages. We must therefore expect snail operations all over France.
Add to that the grumbling of ambulance drivers, movers, taxis, air traffic controllers and airline pilots. But also firefighters, hospital staff, city doctors, emergency doctors, not to mention the staff of the National Education Department, who came back more than ever since the intervention, Friday evening in Nancy, of Edouard Philippe and Jean-Michel Blanquer who did not manage to convince the teachers, far from it.
The only ones who have done well have been the police. Under the threat of a blackout, they obtained large concessions from the government.
Let’s summarize. The proposed pension reform as proposed does not satisfy anyone. It even manages to aggregate all the discontent, resentments and bitterness that have accumulated over the years.
The French are tired of blatant inequalities, social injustices, unemployment, poverty (for 9 million people!) which is the first of all violence against families.
At the same time, when they see the advantages, privileges and pass-throughs of a few. Like those elected officials who have turned democracy into real family SMEs, hiring women, children and friends in the communities. Like these great fortunes that juggle tax evasion or like the High Commissioner for Pensions, Jean-Paul Delevoye who “forgets” to declare his mandates as a director, some of them paid, to the High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP). A real highlight!
It is this France that no one wants anymore. The misguided institutions, the small arrangements between friends, the diversions that always benefit the same people. The vast majority of the French are not against pension reform if it is a source of justice. But they doubt this poorly crafted, poorly presented reform, imposed by an arch-ridden monarch on his certainties.
On Tuesday, December 17, 2019, the executive will have to take the measure of this popular anger and review its copy. Otherwise it will plunge the country into chaos.