This day is the first organized at the national level after the adoption of the law via the constitutional weapon of 49.3, on March 15.
"This demonstration is not a baroud of honor, on the contrary, it is the mobilization that passes to a higher degree after what happened, the 49.3, the passage in force of the government, and until the last statements of Emmanuel Macron (...) This speech is anything but appeasement," Amaury Cullard, a 42-year-old psychologist, said the day before in Strasbourg.
Interviewed on TF1 and France 2 on Wednesday, the President of the Republic did not deviate from his course, reaffirming that the reform is "necessary" and scratching in passing the unions, and particularly the CFDT, accused of not having been able to "propose (r) a compromise".
While since the outbreak of 49.3 demonstrations are daily across the country, and sometimes punctuated by tensions, the head of state said he could not accept "neither the factious nor the factions" and risked a comparison with the events of the Capitol during the election of Joe Biden in the United States.
"This intervention will stir up anger," said on RTL the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, who will leave next week the leadership of the Confederation, at the 53rd Congress of the organization. "The provocation comes from the authorities," he said, denouncing a "scandalous" comparison with the Capitol riots and the executive's desire to "break the strike" by sending police to the picket lines.
- 'Not a baroud of honour' -
Luc Leclercq, CGT representative at Free, will "continue again, demonstrate every day if necessary". "We can see that the only time (Macron) starts reacting is when people burn garbage cans every night. Isn't that the solution? We are starting to ask ourselves the question," he said at a rally Wednesday night in Bordeaux.
Left-wing politicians echoed the unions, with Insoumise leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon denouncing Emmanuel Macron's "traditional marks of contempt" and calling on the French to "flood the streets by the millions".
Without putting forward a number of demonstrators, union leaders are again calling for a "massive" mobilization.
In a bar in Toulouse, customers listen to Emmanuel Macron's interview on television, March 22, 2023 © Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP
The police plan "between 600 and 800,000 people on about 320 actions", including 40 to 70,000 in Paris, where the procession will start at 14:00 from the Place de la Bastille, towards the Place de l'Opéra. About 500 yellow vests and 500 radical elements are expected in Paris, and "in the provinces more than a dozen cities will see demonstrations of the ultra-left, encouraged by the climate of violence of recent days".
Between 40 and 50% of strikers are expected in nursery and elementary schools, according to Snuipp-FSU, the first primary school union. The strikers could also be numerous among refiners, electricians and gas workers, at the forefront of the protest.
The strongly disrupted traffic expected at the RATP and the SNCF: the FO-RATP union, first among metro drivers, called, after the activation of 49.3, to make Thursday "a black day" in transport. At SNCF, only half of the TGV Inoui and Ouigo and a third of the TER will run.
Pension reform: mobilizations planned for March © 23 Nalini LEPETIT-CHELLA / AFP
The FIDL high school union called for "massive blockades throughout the territory" on Thursday and Friday.
Will Thursday's mobilization be a baroud of honor, or a final bouquet before the protest is extinguished? According to a source close to the government, the executive expects the mobilization to "wither" after Thursday's demonstration, and that everything will return to order "this weekend".
But the inter-union does not disarm: it will meet Thursday evening at the headquarters of the CFDT in Paris.
© 2023 AFP