They leave Paris to meet together in Albi. United against the pension reform project, Philippe Martinez (CGT), Laurent Berger (CFDT) and all the national leaders of the small and large trade union confederations created a surprise at the end of the last Parisian demonstration by announcing their intention to march Thursday, February 16 in the peaceful prefecture of Tarn. The idea of ​​demonstrating in one of these medium-sized towns where the processions are proportionally better supplied than in the large metropolises had been on the minds for a few weeks already.

No less than 20,000 people demonstrated on Saturday in the Tarn prefecture, according to the local inter-union. A record, for a city of less than 50,000 inhabitants. Even if the prefecture only counted 6,000 demonstrators, it is necessary to add the 6,000 to 7,000 people who marched in the morning in Castres.

Thursday, the inhabitants of the sub-prefecture will be able to take a bus to swell the ranks of the demonstrators of Albi. A local union official assures that Carole Delga, president (PS) of the Occitanie region, has given her agreement to double the number of coaches which make the connection between the two main cities of the department. Other buses are expected from the neighboring departments of Aveyron, Tarn-et-Garonne and even Haute-Garonne. Scheduled for the afternoon, the event-event of the Tarn should however not overshadow Toulouse, where we traditionally parade in the morning. The influx of demonstrators almost worries Gérard Poujade, mayor of the small town of Le Séquestre, at the gates of Albi. The procession must take off from the roundabout on the ring road which separates its commune from the city-prefecture. “There are going to be people parked in the Leclerc car park,” predicts the elected official, former socialist and unsuccessful Nupes candidate in the last legislative elections. The organizers expect between 20,000 and 30,000 people. They were still settling the last details of the course with the prefecture on Tuesday.

The choice of Albi is symbolic for the whole left. It is “the city of Jaurès”, even if the socialist tribune was a native of Castres and was also elected municipal in Toulouse. But the commitment of the founder of L’Humanité in favor of the miners of Carmaux when he won his first mandate as deputy of the Tarn is still in everyone’s memory. We also remember his support for the nascent cooperatives at the beginning of the 20th century, with the winegrowers of the “Midi rouge” as well as the workers of the Albi glassworks. Patrick Guiraud, federal secretary of the CGT du Tarn, is also an employee of the famous VOA (working glass factory in Albi). Although the company lost its cooperative status when it became part of the Saint-Gobain group, it still supports 300 people in the Tarn prefecture.

The city finally appears in an academy which is not yet in school holidays. Albi is just preparing to welcome the floats of its carnival, which will parade on February 26. The fairground rides of this great popular festival are starting to set up, further complicating the layout of the route. The union procession must go to the Place du Vigan, the traditional starting point of the demonstrations in Albi. It will parade under the sun, according to Météo-France forecasts, in a postcard setting on the banks of the Tarn near the Sainte-Cécile cathedral, classified by Unesco. “We risk having a nice mess”, slips Gérard Poujade, who planned to demonstrate at the end of the procession with the other politicians. Foreseeing, the mayor of the Sequester confides that he will go there by bike, to return more easily to his commune.

Consult our file: Pensions: the big bang