French unions demand repeal of education & pension reforms

2nd June 2023 by

Inter-union rally in front of the rectorate of Rennes to denounce the counter-reforms implemented in national education

TENS of thousands of teachers and their supporters rallied in Paris and towns across France on Wednesday to show their opposition to the Macron government’s ‘Schools Pact’ and to demand the repeal of the pensions law in France.

In a joint press release issued on 19 May, education unions, the FSU, UNSA-Éducation, FNEC-FP-FO, SGEN-CFDT, SNALC and SUD education, called for rallies on 31 May.
The rallies will be followed by a new general strike on 6 June – two days before the National Assembly examines a bill to repeal the pension reform – aimed at bringing parliamentarians and the government face-to-face with their responsibilities.
The unions’ press statement said: ‘Pension reform, “Pact schools, colleges, general, technological and professional high schools”: it is always NO!
‘All to the rallies on May 31, all on strike on June 6!
‘Hoping to turn the page on pensions, Minister Ndiaye put on the agenda of the Ministerial Social Administration Committee for May 31 the decrees and orders on the “upgrading” and the “teacher pact”.
‘The “pact” is a device that in no way meets the expectations of colleagues.
‘Far from contributing to the revaluation expected by all, it will lead to an increase in the workload of staff, while a Department of Evaluation, Forecasting and Performance (DEPP) survey has shed light on the reality of teachers’ working time (half work more than 43 hours per week) and that figures from the wellbeing observatory confirm the difficult working conditions for the profession: half of the staff is in a state of advanced exhaustion.
‘In the context of the negotiation of new professional equality action plans in our ministry, where social demand is strong, the pact bears the proven risk of aggravating inequalities between women.’
The union organisations also believe that the Pact:

  • Carries the proven risk of exacerbating inequalities between men and women.
  • Will lead to a considerable deterioration in the way schools and local public teaching establishments (EPLE) operate and will undermine work teams by pitting staff against each other.

This is why they are ‘contesting the move to roll out reforms by means of pacts that risk creating unequal treatment among pupils in the public education service.
‘This strategy is even more marked in the vocational education sector, where the Pact is a vehicle for implementing highly questionable measures. The government is pushing this through in the same way it did with the pension reform – we are still calling for its repeal.’
The unions therefore reject the Pact and are calling for genuine pay increases, by raising the index point for all staff, for example, in these times of high inflation.
They are calling, lastly, on teaching staff to come together to reassert their demands and to organise rallies, wherever possible, in front of rectorates, education inspectorates and the Ministry of Education on 31 May (the day of the ministerial CSA meeting), and to take part in massive numbers in the strike on Tuesday 6 June to demand the repeal of the pensions law.
The Pact does not
deliver the improvements announced
For the SNES-FSU they say: ‘The Pact does not constitute an improvement, as Emmanuel Macron and Pap Ndiaye are claiming with aplomb and dishonesty.
‘It above all means “working more to wear yourself out more”. It also, and above all, implies a type of on-call service that deprives us of all professional freedom by giving school heads a blank cheque.’
The unions are calling for the pact not to be signed, pointing out that if it is signed, school heads will have total control over teachers’ day-to-day professional activity.
They said: ‘Faced with this head-on attack on our status and our professions, the SNES-FSU is organising the fight: together, let’s defeat the pact!’
Trade union leaders are calling on members to take part in another large-scale day of action on June 6.
Parliament is due to debate a bill two days later which aims to repeal the controversial policy.
In a joint statement, eight unions and five youth organisations wrote: ‘We will not turn the page: together, united and determined to win the withdrawal of the reform and for social progress, build strikes and demonstrations everywhere on June 6.’

  • A mayor in northern France, whose son has autism, last Monday went on a hunger strike to protest against the lack of help for people with disabilities in the country.

Mayor of the town of Poses Georgio Loiseau went on a hunger strike to protest that his autistic son was not admitted to any school.
Loiseau learned that his son with severe autism could not continue his education in schools due to his poor condition.
Loiseau, who went on a hunger strike in front of the authorised administrative institution in the Eure region to protest against the situation, received support from neighbouring counties, associations and many people, as well as politicians.
Loiseau requested that the state provide opportunities for his son and children in his condition to continue their education.
Loiseau noted that his son will not be able to continue his education from next year. ‘We must lead this struggle to victory,’ he declared.
The Mayor stated that he would come in front of the institution every day and that the first week will be decisive even though it will be difficult.
Loiseau, who is expected to meet with the authorities regarding the solution of the issue in the coming days, stated that many families like himself are suffering from the same issue.

  • Parents and teachers are fighting the closure of the the Foëx school in Beauvais, northern France.

‘Shame on you! You don’t even think of the children,’ says a parent of an exasperated student leaving the Beauvais municipal council room.
The reason for his anger: the closure announced for the next school year of the Foëx application school, located in the Saint-Jean district.
Informed, the parents of the 118 students and the teachers lobbied the municipal council to demand an explanation.
Franck Pia, mayor of the city, confirmed that ‘the closure of this school was my decision’, indicating that an ‘information meeting for parents’ must be held.
Not enough for those present.
The opposition asked him ‘to suspend the meeting to allow a parent to speak’.
‘Suspension,’ proclaimed the parents, which seems to irritate Franck Pia who refuses and asserts: ‘I am the police,’ threatening to evacuate the room.
The parents booed the chosen one as they left the premises.
The demonstrators first gathered in front of the school.
‘It was my daughter Léane who opened the city mail,’ says Magali, representative of the parents of students.
She told me: ‘Mom, school is closing.’
At the last school council, in November, there were only congratulations for the work accomplished. The closing of the school was never considered.
Léa, another student’s mother, is indignant. ‘It’s brutality without name,’ she laments. Me, I will probably register it in the private sector but others will not have this choice.’
There is a mother whose child is autistic. Only Foëx in Beauvais can accommodate her.
The teachers are also very upset against this decision.
‘We don’t know where we will be at the start of the school year and especially where our students will go.
‘They are very attached to their school and we are going to relocate them to overload the classes on the set!
‘These are families who do not have the means to defend themselves.
‘I have many children who eat breakfast at school.
‘It is the public school that is being attacked.
‘To see the mayor assert in an authoritarian way that the decision is his, without showing any humanity, it’s just unworthy!’
Serge Rivault, departmental delegate for the National Education Union (DDEN) denounced him saying he carried out, ‘a dirty trick’.
‘The day before the decision, we had a general assembly in the presence of the assistant for school affairs and the mayor and no one told us about the closure of the school.
‘It’s a big blow to public schools and a godsend for private schools.’