Saint-Denis of Reunion (AFP)

A general strike to greet the president: after Mayotte and a hook by the Scattered Islands, Emmanuel Macron arrives Wednesday on an island of Reunion always in situation of acute social crisis, a year after the movement of "yellow vests".

The Head of State continues his journey in the Indian Ocean with a stopover of nearly three days in Reunion, the only overseas territory to have experienced a movement of "yellow vests" in November 2018, to denounce the dearness of life and social inequalities.

For Emmanuel Macron's first visit as president, all Reunion unions have called for a general strike for Thursday. "We thus hear, on the occasion of the arrival of the President of the Republic, alert on the social situation of Reunion, the lack of response to the height of the stakes in terms of jobs, wages, pensions, expensive living, housing, public services, unemployment benefits ... and the fact that the policies will make the social problems of the population even worse, "they said.

Despite calls for blocking broadcast on social networks, the "yellow vests" contacted by AFP indicated that they had "no intention to go into contact or confrontation with the forces of the order".

In this territory of more than 850,000 inhabitants, 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, the unemployment rate reaches 24%, and even 42% among young people.

In addition, the cost of living for an average Reunion household budget is 7.1% higher in Reunion than in France, according to INSEE, while Reunion's median income is 30% lower than in France. national level (AFD, 2015). After a record inflation in 2018 (+ 1.8%), prices are still rising in 2019 (+ 0.6% since the beginning of the year).

"We were counting our pennies before the + yellow + vests, we count them even more now," Kévin irritated, who participated in the movement a year ago.

Emmanuel Macron recognizes it: "Reunion has been jostled by very important social conflicts", and the problem of "the expensive life remains essential", he said Tuesday evening during a press conference in Mayotte.

"The situation is not easy, there is a doubt that has settled on public action in the broad sense," he said.

"But here too, we have commitment, answers and action," he said. "But sometimes things take time and you have to accept it."

- "Concrete projects" -

One of its answers is the establishment of a "Choose Reunion", an economic forum in the presence of some fifty major French and foreign investors, aimed at strengthening the attractiveness of the territory and "projecting Reunion's economic actors" to neighboring regions, southern Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

"This type of forum can bring together business leaders, investors and public stakeholders to promote the assets of the island with concrete projects that will be announced," says the Elysee.

During his stay, which will end on Friday, the president, accompanied in particular by the Ministers of Economy, Labor and Agriculture, should meet Thursday job seekers in a local mission of Saint-Paul, meet with participants in the new "citizen representations" set up after the "yellow vests" crisis, and picnicking with representatives of the local agricultural production sectors in Petite-île (south).

"I will have very strong messages on agriculture and employment," assured the head of state.

This move comes just after a brief stopover on Wednesday morning at the Glorious Islands, a small archipelago 7 km from the Eparses Islands, presumed to be rich in hydrocarbons, administered by France and claimed by Madagascar.

"I will go with several scientists on this extremely strategic territory in the region to mark our commitment to biodiversity and the choice to go after the protection of this territory and to fully protect it", he said. promised.

© 2019 AFP