Economy

Public transport and EDF at the forefront of Tuesday’s strike



The CGT, FO, Solidaires, the FSU and the youth organizations FIDL, Unef, MNL and the Vie lycéenne called for a day of strikes and interprofessional demonstrations on Tuesday 18 October. Employees are called upon to mobilize “for the increase of wages and the defense of the right to strike”after the government’s decision to requisition employees of the oil industry to allow the distribution of fuel.

As usual, the main sectors concerned should be public transport and EDF, bastion of the CGT.

► Public transport

Among the sectors where the CGT calls for a strike are the SNCF, but also the RATP, the transport operator in the Paris region. Could these movements be massive and lead to major disruptions? On paper, the CGT-cheminots is still very powerful at the SNCF. It remained the first union in the last professional elections in the railway company (34%), followed by Unsa-ferroviaire (nearly 24%) of the votes. With SUD-rail (17%) which joins this call to strike, the CGT therefore forms a substantial union pole that observers consider to be more radical.

working culture

“Today, many railway workers still have a working-class culture and the CGT retains significant mobilizing power, even if its influence is very diverse depending on the sector”, estimates Gilles Dansart, director of the information site specializing in transport Mobilettre. “This influence remains very strong in the maintenance workshops whereas it is the CFDT, less inclined to strike, which predominates among the drivers. »

The management of the SNCF granted an average increase of 3.7% for low salaries and 2.2% for executives after a day of strike which had disrupted departures on summer vacation in July.

“We still feel a diffuse malaise in the social body of railway workers for a few years, and the ground can be favorable to a major movement, even if we are never certain of the reaction of the employees”, emphasizes Dominique Andolfatto, professor at the University of Burgundy and trade union specialist. The latter also insists on the fact that the CGT at the SNCF is one of the “hardest” federations of the central trade union, relatively close from an ideological point of view to its counterpart in the refineries.

Proximity to professional elections

Another element could contribute to seeing other unions join this call: the proximity of the professional elections in November. A deadline which, according to Dominique Andolfatto, is sometimes conducive to one-upmanship in the union struggle.

As for the RATP, it is more the morale of the troops than the influence of the CGT, less on the line of the confederation, which could mobilize. The malaise is palpable when we will have to face the opening to competition of the last monopolies with buses in the front line, from 2025.

The Ile-de-France operator also experienced one of its most important strikes in February since the pension reform in 2019. A strike motivated by wage demands. “The fact remains that the RATP unions are most often followed when it comes to internal claims, notes Gilles Dansart. Less out of solidarity with other companies. A slogan that mixes the two is more difficult to take. »

► EDF

EDF agents are called to strike from Monday October 17 at 9 p.m. to Tuesday October 18 at 9 p.m. But this movement should not hide the fact that a social movement has started since September in the nuclear power stations and is beginning to gain momentum.

Five power plants are affected (Triscastin, Cruas, Cattenom, Le Bugey and Gravelines) with eight reactors affected, by work stoppages, at the call of the CGT, but also of FO. On some sites, the actions were even decided in inter-union. These are reactors shut down for maintenance or refueling.

Delay in operations

The agents delay the operations, by not signing, for example, the authorizations which allow the work to continue for each intervention. In a sector where procedures are highly codified, these are sometimes very basic instructions, such as opening or closing valves, so that operators can work in complete safety. A kind of work-to-rule, to which are added the more classic actions of production cuts on certain units, such as those observed on Friday, October 14, on reactors 1 at Gravelines and Belleville.

We have only one demand: the revaluation of wages to take inflation into account”, explains Virginie Neumayer, CGT delegate, in charge of the nuclear sector. A branch agreement for the IEG (electricity and gas industries) has been concluded, with a signature which runs until October 18, for an increase of 3.6% spread over two years (half for 2022 and half for 2023 ).

The EDF unions are demanding an additional 5% increase immediately. According to them, wage negotiations in the company were to start in early November, but they have been brought forward and are due to start on October 19. “This is a first sign that shows that management is taking what is happening seriously”says Samuel Norel, FO delegate at the Gravelines plant.

Disruption of the calendar

In the meantime, these strikes risk upsetting EDF’s schedule. The 25 shutdown reactors (out of a French fleet of 56) were all to be gradually returned to service by February 2023, the group’s CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy had promised during a hearing at the Assembly, September 14. According to management, these repeated strikes would only have an impact for a few days on the return to production of the reactors concerned.

The subject is highly sensitive, given the current energy context, with the fear of running out of power this winter and having to make cuts to maintain the balance of the network. Currently, the nuclear capacity is about 30 GW. In its central scenario, RTE is counting on an availability of 40 GW in mid-December and 45 GW at the end of January to get through the winter without any problems, except in the event of a cold peak combined with a period of no wind.



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