Unions angry over the government’s controversial pension reforms are threatening to plunge several high-profile cultural and sporting events in France into darkness.
They are pushing for electricity to be cut at the world-renowned film showcase Le Festival de Cannes (May 16-27), the Grand Prix de Formule 1 de Monaco (May 28), the Roland-Garros tennis tournament (May 28-June 11) and the Festival d'Avignon (July 5-25).
The Fédération Nationale des Mines et de l’Énergie (FNME) - part of the Confédération générale du travail (CGT) union - issued the warning, calling for workers to “do what they like” during May, including cutting power supplies.
‘100 days of anger’
The backlash is predominantly over the passing of the government’s pension reforms, which will see the minimum retirement age rise from 62 to 64.
But it is also more widely against the French government and, in particular, President Emmanuel Macron.
⚡️En mai, fais ce qu'il te plait— Karim ABED⚡ (@Kabed70) April 22, 2023
Le festival de Cannes, le GP de Monaco, Roland-Garros, le festival d'Avignon pourraient se retrouver dans le noir@FNMECGT , ses Syndicats, ses Militants, les Robins des Bois continueront d'être les défenseurs de l'intérêt général #Grevilla pic.twitter.com/1NC1EvFsSN
The union threats are contained within a poster circulating on social media. It is emblazoned with the slogan “100 days of anger!” mocking Mr Macron’s recent call for 100 days of healing in France after the turbulence of the pension reforms this year.
“The unions, its members, its militants… will continue to defend the public interest using one of its most effective tools,” read the poster, referring to the cutting of electricity supplies.
Similar action has already taken place against Mr Macron as he has been making visits around the country, in what has been seen as a French government attempt to move on from the pension reform controversy.
Last week, during a visit to Alsace, the power to a factory was cut as the president was visiting.
Sébastien Menesplier, general secretary of the FNME-CGT appeared on television to defend the power cuts.
“Wherever government ministers will be, energy workers will be facing them to express their anger,” he said.
"Partout où sera l'exécutif, les agents de l'énergie seront face à eux pour exprimer leur colère"— BFMTV (@BFMTV) April 24, 2023
Sébastien Menesplier (CGT Énergie) réagit aux menaces qui pèsent sur les grands évènements ciblés par la CGT pic.twitter.com/SUp0oifVnT
The post also backs “Robin Hood” workers in the union, who alongside cutting electricity across France, have been giving French people free electricity as part of protest action.
Further strike action to come?
Amidst the call to disrupt French cultural and sporting extravaganzas - as well as the events and movements of the president and his government - the communication also highlights upcoming inter-union action that could further bring the country to a standstill.
There are calls for energy workers to join protests on Friday, April 28 (declared “a day of anger” and potential strike action by railway workers), as well as to join events on May 1, a national holiday in France to celebrate workers and their rights.
The energy union is also planning action on May 3 – although as of now there are no concrete details of what strike action - if any - will happen.