April 30, 2018
Looming May protests against Macron
In the standoff between the French government and the trade unions the month of May promises to be decisive. Despite some strike fatigue among SNCF unionists, entering into the seventh week of targeted 2-day-a-week strike action, the protest movement might get a new boost. Last week the FO union elected a new leader who is more open to join the hard line of the CGT union. Also this is an intense strike week starting with the traditional protest march on May 1. Pensioners, employees from companies like Carrefour or Ehpad, and students, are expected to bring their grievances to the streets. The two SNCF strike days of SNCF on May 3 and 5 coincide with strikes at Air France. The week ends with Emmanuel Macron's first anniversary as president. Several parties on the left already plan for a big day of social mobilisation against what they denounce as a neoliberal and authoritarian president.
Will the stand-off with the trade unions pay off? Cécile Cornudet writes that the government missed an opportunity to divide the trade unions when they ignored Laurent Berger, a senior trade union leader who had asked for a negotiated settlement. Instead the government chose to confront the trade unions. But Berger also warned that the effectiveness of the reforms cannot be guaranteed without the social actors in the economy. Édouard Philippe will receive the trade unions on May 7. The question is whether the government will continue with its confrontational tactic.
Will there be a convergence in goals amongs the different actors, as some of the trade unions hope for? Nouvel Observateur notes that civil servants are preparing a second day of mobilisation on May 22, after the one last October. The new action was called by all of the trade unions, a rare consensus that has not been seen for ten years.