Macron and unions two years of tension

Between urgent calls to the Elysee Palace, the headquarters of the presidency or the presidency of the government, and negotiations under pressure and even provocations, relations between unions and the executive branch in France have witnessed great fluctuation for more than two years.

"The relationship is" very cautious, "Laurent Bergeret, the secretary-general of the" French Democratic Confederation of Labor "(CFDT), told AFP. "They adopted the theory that the intermediary bodies prevent democracy and are not a lever for it."

President Emmanuel Macron had previously warned that he would prefer trade unions to remain in place, that is, within institutions. "I would like a trade union movement that is less politicized," he said when he was running for president. "We need intermediary bodies but in the right place."

Upon his arrival, the unions, some of whom had had an experience of Macron as a consultant in the Elysee or in the Ministry of Finance, knew that they would have to storm the ministries and would have difficulty hearing their voices.

This is especially so that the post-election stage is witnessing anticipation during which it is difficult to carry out any social mobilization, and unions have declined in popularity to the lowest level, similar to political parties.

For this reason, the mobilization against the Labor Law failed in 2016.

The amendment of a law that was the first reform in the state spanning five years, passed without problems although these texts also infuriate unions because they provide for the incorporation of representative bodies of employees and over time cancel tens of thousands of elected representatives in French companies.

The "General Confederation of Labor" (CGT) and "Solidarity" (Solidere) unions organized some demonstrations, but they were not very successful. Requests were made to the judiciary that led to no result.

While some at the "French Democratic Confederation of Labor" base express their discontent, Laurent Berger does not want to enter into a confrontation. "We must not give the government the arguments to include us in the category of the ancient world among the helpless complainants," he said.

But tensions about content and style are increasing, and unions feel that they are being ignored and circumvented until they are insulted.

"Macron is one of those who believe in the principle of 'I am thinking if I am present'," said Pascal Bafago, who served as Secretary-General of the "Workforce" union.

For his part, Philippe Martinez, who leads the "General Confederation of Labor", saw that Macron "plays with fire", while the representative of the "French Confederation of Cadres", François Homril, launches the tweet after the other against the executive authority and interrupts some meetings.

In May 2018, Laurent Bergeret said that "with Emmanuel Macron we either agree with everything or do not have the right to interfere," explaining six months before the start of the "yellow vests" movement that he feared the rise of "extremism".

A month later, Dan Bergeret "The Anglo-Saxon Vision" of Macron Society, which promotes "populist currents." He also launched an attack on immigration policy in an article in which he wrote, "Mr. Macron, your policy contradicts the humanitarian principles that you advocate."

After the favorite axes in the previous presidential term, the "French Democratic Confederation of Labor" is no longer favored by the authority and seeks to find a way out of the situation.

Meanwhile, the "National Railroad Company" did not prevent a dispute that lasted three months, reformed the company into an anonymous company and aroused the discontent of the railway workers.

Even in the form of employers run by a new president, Gouvoire de Pezeau, this was not accepted.

In an unprecedented event in the memory of trade unionists and entrepreneurs, all trade unions and employers' organizations met in the Economic and Social Council.

And I decided to agree before the first date in the Elysee with all the social partners, presented by the President of the State as an opportunity to "lay the foundations of a new social contract, the decade of the century that begins."

The unions respected all the meetings, but remained cautious. A month later, a meeting was held at the Prime Ministry headquarters this time.

The meeting did not convince Philippe Martinez. "Nothing has changed," he said. "They summon us to explain what they will do this year (...) and tell us 'over all we will do what we want'."

This was followed by the "Yellow Jackets" crisis in the fall of 2018, which many unionists had expected.

The executive branch has sunk into a crisis and is having difficulty getting out. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe rejected Laurent Bergeret's offer of help, and eventually launched a series of measures called "Chapter Two" of the presidential term with extensive dialogue. But that did not convince the unionists.

The features of the situation began to emerge.

"Going forward with someone who is not good at work is complicated," said Francois Hommerel.

And the last chapter in this series left a mark: the issue of unemployment insurance. After they called to negotiate under pressure, they said, the social partners were unable to understand.

Macron commented, "We are in a strange system. Every day they repeat in the country + intermediary bodies, regional and democratic bodies, and social democracy, and let's move + and when we reach out to them, they say 'This is a difficult thing we do not want +".

This statement was a provocation to the unions and to the Employers Association.

"The search for a holocaust ram is short-term, but it is counter-productive in the future," said Laurent Bergeret.

After nine months, Bergeret participated in Tuesday's demonstrations against the amendment of the pension system, while he was personally more supportive of the principle of "a comprehensive pension system" instead of the 42 pension systems currently in force in France.


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