• Tuesday January 31 will be marked by a new day of mobilization against the pension reform which is raising broad political and trade union opposition.

  • To support the movement, and in response to Fabien Roussel's call, many town halls will symbolically close.

  • Are these closures legally questionable?

    Is the principle of neutrality flouted, as the Minister of Labor suggests?

    Elements of answers with Andréa Vilerio, lawyer in public law, and Jean-Paul Markus, professor in public law at the University of Paris-Saclay, contacted by

    20 Minutes


Fabien Roussel's appeal to mayors was heard by "hundreds" of city councilors, according to the communist official.

He asked them to symbolically close this Tuesday in solidarity with the new mobilization against the pension reform which faces tenacious opposition.

Several town halls have followed in the footsteps of Anne Hidalgo, elected PS of Paris, enough to trigger fury in the government.

“I have a bit of the feeling that the mayor of Paris confuses municipal services with an appendix of the Socialist Party”, retorted the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt evoking a problem of “neutrality”.

Does the closure of town halls in support of a strike movement really pose a problem of neutrality?

Are they just legal?

What legal issues do they raise?

“The decision to close town halls is open to challenge, the act is subject to appeal”, decides with

20 Minutes

Anne-Andréa Vilerio, lawyer in public law.

What do these closures actually consist of?

The first to respond to Fabien Roussel was Anne Hidalgo, elected from the capital, followed by several municipalities.

As far as the Paris City Hall is concerned, the Hôtel de Ville will remain closed to the public all day, as well as the

Capitale(s) exhibition.

on urban art, and two posters "Town Hall in solidarity with the social movement" will be installed on the facade, the City told AFP.

Only the "women's stop" for homeless women will be accessible.

A “broad invitation” to telework is also launched to non-striking agents.

However, city officials who cannot telework will be able to access City Hall.

The decision to close or not the town halls of the district is on the other hand left to the free appreciation of each of them.

In the latter, civil status will however remain open and marriages will continue to be insured.

In Val-de-Marne, the mayor of Bonneuil-sur-Marne, Denis Öztorun Ömür, has decided to symbolically close her town hall.

Fontenay-sous-Bois, Ivry-sur-Seine, and Villejuif have announced the closure of their municipal services, reports

Le Parisien


But also Montreuil, Lens and the LFI mayor of Faches-Thumesnil (Nord), Patrick Proisy, announced that the strike hours of the agents of his city would not be counted from 2 p.m., "so that they can go afternoon at the demonstration in Lille".

Is closing a town hall in support of a social movement legal?

If it is not completely unprecedented, it is a rare action to see town halls mobilize in this way against a government reform project.

And if she can get along in the context of a political confrontation, "of expressed support" for the strikers, according to Stéphane Sirot, historian and specialist in social movements contacted by

20 Minutes

, at the level of the law, she is much more questionable.

It is even likely to generate appeals, in particular from municipal councillors.

As Anne-Andréa Vilerio recalls, a legal precedent gave rise to case law when the Lyon administrative court of appeal ruled in 2018 that it was illegal to partially close public services.

“The mayor of Grenoble took part in a national movement, of a political nature, against the reduction in state grants decided by the government.

Such a reason, unrelated to the interest of the municipality or the proper functioning of municipal services, is likely to taint this decision with illegality, ”we can read in the decision.

Moreover, if the decision taken in solidarity with the strike movement of January 31 tends not to penalize the strikers financially, this can be interpreted as "a disguised public subsidy", yet the latter "must never be allocated to political purposes”, underlines for his part Jean-Paul Markus, professor of public law at the University of Paris-Saclay, contacted by

20 Minutes


In addition, the decision of the town hall of Faches-Thumesnil not to count the hours of strike from 2 p.m. goes against the principle of "service done", namely "that we cannot pay an agent if the service was not done”, he abounds.

What is the principle of neutrality?

Invoked by the Minister of Labour, the “principle of neutrality” of people and public officials is expressed, in the law, within the framework of secularism, nuance Anne-Andréa Vilerio.

However, case law from the Council of State frames this principle of neutrality more closely in order to “prevent the public service from being used for the purposes of political propaganda”, sums up the lawyer.

"The principle of neutrality of public services is opposed to the affixing to public buildings of signs symbolizing the claim of political, religious or philosophical opinions", thus judged the Council of State in 2005. The posters "Town Hall solidarity with the social movement” which will be installed on the facade of the town hall of Paris are again likely to come up against the law.

Our dossier on the pension reform

And if the mayor is a political personality, elected thanks to a program or to his political affiliation and he has "full freedom of expression", he is also an administrative agent and in this sense, "he must be neutral in his administrative mission", develops Jean-Paul Markus.

But for Stéphane Sirot, this action to close town halls is part of "a balance of power which is also played out in the political field and those who are offended by it are mainly elected officials or leaders of the majority".

And to emphasize that “the government is also far from respecting neutrality when it sends emails to civil servants to explain a reform which has not yet been voted on”, he annoys.

It remains to be seen whether city councilors will attempt legal action to challenge the closures planned for Tuesday.


Strike of January 31: "Without us, there is no vacation", seasonal workers are also mobilizing in the resort


Pension reform: "No strike fund aims to replace the salary"

  • Pension reform 2023

  • Company

  • Paris city hall

  • City hall

  • Justice

  • Strike

  • Mayor