Paris (AFP)

A week at very high risk opens for the government, on the eve of a new national demonstration, without any compromise in sight on the pension reform allowing to get out of the blockage of transport, a few days before the Christmas holidays.

On Sunday, the government and the unions handed over responsibility for a possible paralysis of the country during the holidays.

"If the government withdraws its project and (we) seriously discuss how to improve the system (...) and everything will be fine. Otherwise, the strikers will decide what they have to do Thursday or Friday", declared number 1 of the CGT Philippe Martinez on BFMTV five days before the start of the end of year holidays.

Response on the same plateau a few moments later from the Minister of Public Accounts Gérald Darmanin: "the Republic cannot be blackmailed".

Monday promises to be another dark day in transport: in addition to public transport still very disrupted and traffic jams, it will be necessary to count on snail operations and blockades of truckers, at the call of four transport unions and the logistics, on a separate watchword.

CFDT (1st trade union in the sector), FO, CFTC and CGC are demanding better working conditions and wages.

"It is a movement planned for a long time, which has nothing to do with pensions, but of course it is grafted on it," agreed Charles Morit of the UFR-CFDT.

On the public transport side, the RATP plans traffic that will still be "very disrupted" on Monday, with 8 metro lines closed and half of the buses. The SNCF announces a TGV on 3, a Transilien on 4 and four TER on 10 on average and warns above all for Tuesday, "where traffic will be more reduced because of the union call to demonstrate".

For the holidays, the SNCF is already preparing a "plan bis" in the event of an extension of the railway workers' strike.

The railway undertaking must inform users on Tuesday individually of the maintenance or cancellation of their train for the first weekend of the school holidays. The executive director of Voyages SNCF Rachel Picard has promised to "try to work miracles" to propose other departure times in the event of cancellation. But half of the travelers would nevertheless remain on the floor.

The SNCF provides 32% of the traffic currently, she said in Le Parisien on Saturday, after falling to 11% on December 5.

- New test on Tuesday -

Tuesday will be a decisive day. It is indeed all the unions which now call the strike and the demonstration, including the reformist organizations, like the CFDT, the CFTC, the Unsa or the students of La Fage.

These organizations are furious that the Prime Minister has maintained an age measure in his plan to transform the 42 existing pension plans into a universal point system.

Fixing an "equilibrium age" of 64 years in 2027 means that everyone can continue to retire at 62, but at the cost of a penalty on their pension, those leaving after benefiting on the contrary from 'a bonus. This is to encourage longer contributions to save money and maintain the financial balance of the system.

It is a "red line" for Laurent Berger, the boss of the CFDT. "For the CFDT to take another look at this bill, the government must agree to withdraw the age of balance. One point, that's all," he said on Sunday.

As for the opening of new consultations, Mr. Berger hinted that he would go there. It remains to be seen when they will take place, probably not before the mobilization on Tuesday at the call in particular of the inter-union CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU and four youth organizations.

Mr. Martinez had the Prime Minister on the phone Thursday evening, but without an appointment being made.

In addition to the railway workers, teachers, civil servants, lawyers and magistrates, interns, doctors and carers will sometimes be mobilized in separate processions throughout France to demand more resources for the hospital.

The way out of the crisis promises to be difficult, while the chief negotiator, the high commissioner for pensions Jean-Paul Delevoye remains weakened after the revelation of 13 undeclared mandates. The High Authority for the transparency of public life could decide Wednesday to seize the justice.

© 2019 AFP