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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/Sondage-70-d...

by Olivier Mayer

Survey: 70% of the French people support the demonstrations of May 1

Translated Friday 30 April 2010, by Hervé Fuyet and reviewed by Henry Crapo

On Saturday, nearly 300 events are organized by the CGT, CFDT, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires, for employment, salaries and guaranteed pensions. This is the first opportunity to be heard on the pension reform.
It’s final! Our poll by the CSA institute shows: 70% of the French people support or express sympathy for the events of May 1 organized by the CGT, CFDT, FSU, UNSA and Solidaires, on employment, wages and pensions. This result exceeds the figures reached on March 23 (65%) and at major events of 2009 (69% January 29, 1962 March 19%). It even approaches the record of support and sympathy by the movement of students in April 2008 (73%)!

This survey by l’Humanité confirms what all unions say about today’s social climate, marked by a significant rise of conflicts. The militancy of workers in enterprises is expressed by very strong struggles. First for employment, because workers face redundancy plans, relocations that have not slowed for months. But also, perhaps especially, for wages. Conflicts are increasing gradually as the mandatory annual negotiations (NAO) show the employer stinginess in regard to wages, and the extreme generosity of company management for shareholders. This surge in wage disputes now affects large business and industry groups such as Carrefour and Airbus.

"In business, the struggles concern wages," said Pascal Joly, Secretary General of the Ile-de-France CGT. But all the activists on the ground say the employees have in mind especially the pension reform. And what dominates is a huge concern. "Clearly, the government promises a reform that will focus on tightening access for retirement," said Jean-Louis Malys, the "Mr retirement" of the CFDT.

The remarks of Minister of Labour, on France Inter radio Thursday morning, probably does not help to reassure employees. Eric Woerth, who still does not reveal anything concrete about the actual projects of the government, claims that the reform is "essential", that people will "work longer" and "contribute longer", and that "there will be no counterpart to this". "The counterpart is that the system will be saved" he argues in substance. And when a reporter asked if the pension reform is not a pledge to the credit rating agencies, Eric Woerth implicitly confirms: "It sent a signal to the world.(...) (...) The pension reform is an example of our seriousness. " A statement which is grist to the mill of Bernard Thibault, secretary general of the CGT, who accused the rating agencies, "private militias in the service of the advocacy of capital," to "playing policemen" when they believe that "government spending or social systems of a country are too expensive".

The 284 events scheduled for May 1 may be the first opportunity to express massively one’s opposition to any decline in the pension system, one’s commitment to maintaining the right to retire at sixty, one’s rejection of the extension of the duration of contributions, and lower pensions. If, since all unions are present and engaged, the rendezvous is successful, the terms of the debate will be modified.

Oliver Mayer

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