Pensions: reformist unions win a battle but not the war

It is a great victory for the reformist unions. The CFDT, UNSA and CFTC, made Prime Minister Édouard Philippe bend, forced to move back to the pivotal age at 64, a budgetary measure aimed at balancing the pension system by 2027. “This decision marks a turning point. willingness to compromise on the part of the government, “hastened to comment on Laurent Berger, the leader of the Belleville trade union center, on Saturday January 11, after receiving a letter from Matignon. This success allows the Belleville power plant to come out on top of a social conflict that lasted 5 weeks and saw CFDT militants demonstrate twice. A great first for more than ten years. “The battle against the pivotal age was a good opportunity to assert a responsible but demanding trade unionism”, analyzes Dominique Andolfatto, professor at the University of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

Difficult compromise with the Medef

But the hardest part remains to be done because, in his letter, the head of government confronts the social partners with their responsibilities by asking them to find alternative solutions at the pivotal age.

Employers and unions must work together as part of a major financing conference – an idea of ​​the CFDT to get out of the crisis – and make their proposals by the end of April. If they get out of hand, it is the government that will regain control to impose its measures by ordinance, as in the case of unemployment insurance last year. This did not escape Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, the president of Medef, the main employers’ organization: “I remind you that it is the CFDT which requested the points system, it is also it which requests the financing conference , so the ball is in his court “. The equation promises to be difficult to solve since according to Raymond Soubie, president of Alixio, these two protagonists do not agree for the moment on not much: “The CFDT suggests an increase in social contributions or a use of the fund pension reserve, while the employers are demanding a lowering of the legal retirement age to 64 years “. A pathway could emerge: they could agree on an increase in the duration of the contribution, as Emmanuel Macron suggested last summer.

Another stone in the shoe of the cédétiste: the CFDT railway worker who wishes to continue mobilizing the SNCF pending guarantees on the future level of pensions for employees of the railway company. An opposition to put into perspective according to Dominique Andolfatto: “The CFDT is the 4th union of the SNCF and its representativeness is fragile. It cannot be against the tide of other organizations, otherwise it risks being sanctioned in the next professional elections” .

UNSA, the rising union

Same plan at the UNSA where Laurent Escure, the secretary general, must play the balancing act to reconcile the confederal, reformist position, and that of his union section at the RATP at the initiative of the December 5 movement. “The UNSA is a very delocalized organization and the power is more at the base than at the central level”, analyzes Raymond Soubie, president of Alixio. The radicalism of the union at the RATP is exacerbated by union competition: the UNSA is 0.08% ahead of the CGT, which calls for the withdrawal of the reform, during the professional elections of 2018.

Anyway, this confederation is the big winner of the social conflict: “It has entered the big league, affirms Bernard Vivier director of the Higher Institute of Labor. While it is not representative at the level nationally, UNSA was a key player in negotiations with the government. ” A small thumb who played on a par with the big fish CFDT and CGT on pension reform.