As usual, it smells good merguez, this Friday Place de la République in Paris. No question of departing from the tradition for this seventh day of national protest since the start of the protest, last December 5.
Is the movement running out of steam, as the government seems to believe, which at the same time presented its text of the pension reform to the Council of Ministers? The crowd massing around the statue of the sculptor Léopold Morice, under an azure blue sky and in a pungent cold, wants to prove the opposite. Like those gathered in some 200 other processions in France at the same time. In all, 239,000 people marched in France according to the police. They were 1.3 million according to the CGT.
In the capital, which has received figures between 39,000 and 350,000 demonstrators, each is organized according to a routine already largely tested for 51 days. Some are apostrophied and greet each other. The others check the megaphone batteries, testing the slogans at full volume. Or put a final touch of color on their banners and signs. Feminism is carried loud and clear: "Neither fooled nor submissive", can we read on a cardboard; "Big losers will be us" we see on another, adorned with a stencil of Princess Leia, the heroine of Star Wars.
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Then slowly, after a few hesitation waltzes, the procession starts. Boulevard Saint-Martin first, which, with its two-level sidewalks, quickly seems too narrow. Then that of Sébastopol, wider, towards the Seine. In the crosshairs: Place de la Concorde.
“The days are countless,” says Annabelle, 46, a school teacher in a nursery school in Noisiel (Seine-et-Marne), who came with the AG Est Francilien inter-professional group (also bringing together railway workers and RATP line A). I have been of all kinds. We didn't do all of that to stop along the way. "
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If the motivation seems intact, the cost of the strike weighs more and more on the families. Throughout the procession, demonstrators pass through the ranks, prize pools in hand. "I am on my fifteenth day of strike since the start of the school year in January," still calculates Annabelle. So I have already lost half of my salary for this month, or 1,500 euros. "
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Tristan, her husband, who accompanied her to all the major events, bounced back: “I am a ramp agent for Air France. Like everyone else, points retirement, I don't want it. I am only on my fifth day of strike, it has already cost me 600 euros. The couple will therefore end the month of January with 2,100 euros less on their budget. "We will have to face a big overdraft, worries Annabelle. Even if our eldest son, 18, who worked during the school holidays, offered to help us with the bills. "
The unions are aware of the financial issue. The ability to integrate it into the struggle also signifies for them the unfailing commitment of the strikers. “It's hard and yet they do not falter, observes Philippe Martinez, the boss of the CGT. Including RATP and SNCF. And they are joined by others. And the secretary general of the CGT to mention three new days of mobilization already next week, including a "highlight" on January 29.
His counterpart to Force Ouvrière, Yves Veyrier, sees in the new forms of protests that are emerging an ability to reinvent himself: "Look at the torchlit retreats, which have flourished almost everywhere this week in the country," he enthuses. . It is only in this way that we can hold, for what is already a social movement of historic length. "