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Paris, Lyon, Lille … A very political May 1st with pension reform in the sights

Several tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected across France this Sunday for the traditional May Day parades. A rally that will be particularly scrutinized on the left, while the political parties are negotiating for an agreement for the legislative elections.

Several tens of thousands of people will parade this Sunday for the traditional International Labor Day, at the call of many unions and associations, which hope to make heard a week after the second round of the presidential election their wish for a more social and more ecological.

“The May Day mobilization must be as massive as possible… Citizens, beyond the unions, must take to the streets so that social and environmental demands are made loud and clear,” said the secretary. General of the CGT Philippe Martinez in The Parisian Saturday.

On France Inter, Philippe Martinez noted that it was a “fairly exceptional meeting, a week after the election of the President of the Republic”. “There have to be people,” he insisted.

Events already over in Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulouse

Two hundred and fifty-five assembly points had been planned in the country, according to CGT Confederal Secretary Céline Verzeletti, “twenty more” than last year. The union leader expects a good mobilization, even if this May 1 falls on a Sunday and during school holidays for zones A and C.

The demonstrations brought together 1,900 people in Bordeaux according to the police (4,500 according to the organizers), 3,600 in Marseille and 3,500 in Toulouse according to the police, or even 1,500 to 2,500 in Strasbourg according to the sources.

Under the Marseille sun, carrying a flag “for the popular union”, Martine Haccoun, a 65-year-old retired doctor, came “to show that we did not give Macron a blank check for five years, we have wanted to block Mrs. Le Pen”.

In Lyon, 4,000 to 6,000 people marched, according to the sources: a stronger mobilization than last year “despite the school holidays”, noted the departmental secretary of the UD CGT du Rhône, Joao Pereira-Alfonso, “but the context this year is that employees are mobilizing against government attacks”.

Representatives of the left expected

The Parisian demonstration will leave at 2:30 p.m. from Place de la République, heading for Place de la Nation.

Many left-wing political figures are expected, first and foremost Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI). The national secretary of EELV Julien Bayou should also parade in the capital, as well, no doubt, as his PS counterpart Olivier Faure. The PCF presidential candidate, Fabien Roussel, will be in Lille.

In the context of difficult negotiations to reach an agreement for the whole left in view of the legislative elections, Julien Bayou spoke on Friday of the possibility for the left to march under a “common banner”, “in support of the unions”. But Jean-Luc Mélenchon has somewhat dampened this ardor in the JDD Saturday: “The May Day family photo is not the subject! The subject is the content of the social program that we will apply.”

In 2021, the organizers had claimed more than 170,000 demonstrators, including 25,000 in Paris. The Ministry of the Interior had meanwhile reported 106,650 demonstrators in France, including 17,000 in the capital.

The CFDT stands apart

At the forefront of the demands of the CGT-Unsa-FSU-Solidaires inter-union, joined by the student and high school organizations Unef, VL, MNL and FIDL, “the questions of wages, public services, social protection and transition environmentally friendly,” according to an April 7 statement.

Unlike last year, the Force Ouvrière confederation did not sign this national appeal. On the other hand, the Île-de-France Regional Union FO has co-signed a joint leaflet with these organizations and the secretary general of FO Yves Veyrier will participate in the press briefing before the Paris demonstration.

In the morning, Yves Veyrier will go as usual to pay homage to the fighters of the Commune, in front of the Federated Wall at the Père-Lachaise cemetery.

The CFDT, the leading union in France, is unsurprisingly standing apart, by organizing for its part a “May 1st committed to the climate”.

The pension reform in the viewfinder

In the crosshairs of the trade unions, the pension reform, while President Emmanuel Macron has made the decline of the legal age of departure to 64 then 65 years a cardinal point of his program.

Their concern is all the more acute since the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire did not rule out Monday using the weapon of 49.3 to have the reform adopted.

Associations and NGOs mobilized on environmental issues will also be involved, at the call of the group Never again.

The authorities will also be attentive to calls from the ultra-left and the ultra-right, while the latest demonstrations on May 1 have been marred by incidents. Last year, union activists and vehicles were targeted at Place de la Nation.

This year, the police are expecting some 300 activists and “up to a thousand yellow vests” in Paris.

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