July 30, 2021

Industrial jobs and the climate: reconciling the irreconcilable

” Month-end “, against ” end of the world “. Soon three years after the “yellow vests” crisis which had revealed the obvious, and at a time when the Climate and Resilience bill is being discussed in the Senate, the opposition between these two emergencies generates incomprehension and local conflicts all over the country.

There are those who feel they are paying a heavy price for the energy transition. “For 98 employees of the Gardanne plant, it results in unemployment. With the subcontractors, 1,000 families will be in precariousness, asserts Nadir Hadjali, deputy secretary of the CGT of the thermal power station of Gazel Energie in the Bouches-du-Rhône. For two and a half years, its employees have fought fiercely against the closure of their work tool, President Emmanuel Macron having promised the exit of coal by 2022 from his presidential campaign. Since then, France has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

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No redundancies for the employees of the EDF coal-fired power station in Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), closed on March 31. But changes, moves, and a lot of bitterness testifies Frédéric Guérin, general secretary of the CGT of the site. “We had to know months in advance where we would be reclassified, so that we could contemplate the future with serenity. But everything was done in a rush. Out of 150 agents, twenty-five still do not know what will become of them. “

In contrast, there are these citizens’ fronts against industries deemed to be polluting. As in Tarascon (Bouches-du-Rhône), against the Fiber Excellence pulp mill, classified Seveso. In receivership, it received 9 million euros in public aid, when the only takeover offer requires a two-year moratorium on environmental investments. But the company, which employs 300 people, is the only outlet for thousands of loggers in the South-East.

Contradictory injunctions

We also demonstrated on May 29 in Soissons, in the Aisne, against the project to set up a Rockwool factory for rock wool. For its opponents, the site will release harmful emissions. But Rockwool is the promise of 130 jobs, maybe more in the future. “While the government is talking about reindustrializing France, it is an extraordinary opportunity for our territory, which, in twenty years, has lost 46% of its industrial jobs”, insists Alain Crémont, president (Les Républicains, LR) of the agglomeration of Grand Soissons.

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