The government says it "hears" and "understands" the anger of the French.
But faced with a record mobilization against the pension reform, and while waiting for two new days of action, he does not give up the postponement of the retirement age to 64, which crystallizes the discontent.
“Yesterday was the biggest event
(for 30 years)
, 1995 included!
“, greeted on RTL the secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, on the front line of the challenge.
The demonstrations brought together more than 1.27 million people on Tuesday according to the Ministry of the Interior (more than 2.5 million according to the unions), more than the first mobilization of January 19, and than the historic record of 2010.
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In the process, the eight main French unions announced two new days, Tuesday 7 and Saturday 11 February.
"We are accentuating this mobilization" and "we are giving the possibility (...) to people who cannot always demonstrate during the week to come and express their dissatisfaction", explains Laurent Berger.
These days of action will coincide with the social movement among refiners, called to stop work for 72 hours from February 6th.
The CGT Cheminots and SUD-Rail proposed a strike on February 7 and 8, before possibly a renewable movement from mid-February.
At the RATP, the intersyndicale also called for a strike on February 7 and 11.
“We will have to move up a gear”
"I call on the government to stop being straight in your boots, let's discuss and hear that this age measure, it is not at all accepted, it is rejected", asks Laurent Berger.
Philippe Martinez (CGT) warned against a hardening of the movement and renewable strikes: if the government continues to "minimize discontent, we will have to move up a gear", he said, accusing the executive to "play arm wrestling".
At the end of the Council of Ministers, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, expressed the observation that there had been “a little more demonstrators” and “a little less strikers” than on January 19.
“We look at this with humility, concentration”, he added, while ensuring to keep the “course of preserving the sovereignty of our country”.
In the entourage of the Head of State, it is emphasized that the mobilization was "monitored at the height of what had been announced", adding, while Emmanuel Macron remains in the background, that he "talked a lot" ahead of the reform.
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Several members of the government adopted a conciliatory but firm tone on Wednesday.
The Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, Gabriel Attal, expressed his "respect" for the French who take "a day to assert their convictions".
A way to correct the situation, after having called on the unions the day before to mobilize "while respecting the French who work".
"There are concerns, there are doubts, of course we listen to them," he said, echoing the Prime Minister, who said on Tuesday evening that she heard "questions" and "doubts caused by the reform.
“The idea is not to block the country, it is to block this reform project
However, Elisabeth Borne also assured that she did not want to deviate from her "course", a few days after having affirmed that the 64 years were "not negotiable".
The Prime Minister received this Wednesday morning the president of the Republicans Eric Ciotti and the leader of the deputies LR Olivier Marleix "to continue the discussions", according to the entourage of the first, while the attention is now turned towards the Parliament, where the project has been examined since Monday in the Social Affairs Committee.
The examination in committee ends on Wednesday, the deputies having no chance of overcoming the thousands of amendments under discussion.
They might not even manage to examine article 7 which concerns the postponement of the legal age to 64 years.
Olivier Véran regretted the "desire for parliamentary obstruction" of "certain opposition groups".
Anyway, it is the initial bill which will be on the menu in the hemicycle from Monday and for two weeks.
On the union side, the number two of the CFDT, Marylise Léon, said on franceinfo that "the idea is not to block the country, it is to block this reform project and therefore to influence the debate in particular. parliamentary”, and “to ensure that the 64 years are removed from the text”.