In the EDF, the public electricity company, those joining the strike reached 40.3%, a slight decrease from 44.5% on 19 January: the reduction in electricity production was therefore decidedly smaller. Similarly, at SNCF, the railways, participation stopped at 36.5%, from 46.3%: in any case, only one TGV out of three and two Ter out of ten circulated.
The moments of tension
There were moments of tension, especially at the head of the Parisian procession, where slogans such as “Flic, rapists, bastards” and “Acab” were chanted, along with anti-capitalist and anarchist slogans. Some banks, in particular, have been targeted by demonstrators’ attempted devastation. Among the crowd, the Gilets Jaunes have reappeared again, but also supporters of Frexit, the exit of France from the EU (despite the failures of Brexit, now recognized by a majority of Britons): the idea is widespread in the country that the pension reform is desired by the European Union and not dictated by the need to rearrange the costs of social security (but young people, according to a survey, are well aware of this).
There was no shortage of Afghan or Palestinian flags, while the French ones were almost absent – at least at the head of the procession (one of which was burned in Lyon). Tensions erupted outside Emmanuel Macron’s favorite restaurant, La Rotonde, protected by the police (“They protect the rich”, the protesters’ slogan). The police fired tear gas and disengagement grenades, which were particularly dangerous.
On the other hand, the situation in schools is calm, where, however, participation was limited. There was no shortage of protests nicknamed Robin Hood (Robin des Bois, in French): a handful of speed cameras and several “thousands” of Linky electricity meters were blocked.
The political reactions were a bit different compared to the first day. If on January 19 the government showed willingness to listen, Borne assured, during a meeting with the presidential party Rénaissance and its allies, that “the majority will be united”, precisely because some rift, among the Macronians themselves, had manifested after the first strike. «With this reform – continued the prime minister – we are fighting to save the pay-as-you-go system. We fight for our social system. I have no doubt, even for a second, that the majority will be unity. You have united around the President of the Republic and his project ».