The Quai D'Orsay personnel are "tired", "worried about their future" or "in lack of consideration". They will strike this Thursday, June 2, to protest against a number of reforms that they claim threaten the efficiency and prestige of French diplomacy. This unusual protest was initiated by six unions and 500 young diplomats.
Although President Emmanuel Macron's reform of the senior civil servant, which will impact diplomatic careers, was the catalyst for the movement, the discontent has been building for many years. Olivier Da Silva, a CFTC diplomat and trade unionist, said that the "purging of reforms and the continual decline in resources leads to fatigue, disarray, and staff". He also noted that the "anger" level is particularly high in the network.
Many high-ranking diplomats, ambassadors and regional directors have posted their support for the movement via Twitter since a few days.
Even gatherings are planned right in front of the ministries in Paris and Nantes where the center for the diplomatic archives is.
While consular officers and ambassadors have the right to strike without notice, "of course" we won't threaten the protection of our interests or our compatriots. Olivier Da Silva says that we call for a halt to work as soon it doesn't threaten the continuation of the defense of my interests. He adds that a strike is an event in and of itself, calling it "a cry for alarm". "Our ministry has been damaged and must be rebuilt." Both the unions and the collective call for the organization diplomatic meetings.
The reform of the senior civil services raises concerns. It creates a new corps for State administrators. Senior civil servants won't be assigned to any specific administration, but will be encouraged to change it frequently throughout their careers.
This reform will directly affect around 700 diplomats. It will result in a merger and eventual "extinction" of two historic bodies of French diplomacy, the ministers plenipotentiary and foreign affairs advisors. Many of them believe that this is the "end of professional diplomacy" French network, third behind China and the United States.
An ambassador spoke under anonymity to say that "with this reform, France will be represented by people who are not trained in codes of diplomacy or not ready." He is pursuing:
An anonymous high-ranking diplomat said that he was concerned about staff fatigue due to constant pressure and a decrease in resources. This source said that while there is certainly gold at Quai D'Orsay, the truth is there are less and fewer resources.
Catherine Colonna, a career diplomat, was appointed to the ministry. Her appointment has been read as a message to staff. She claims that she has "established a high-quality social dialogue" with all trade unions.
"The concern is real, staff are tired", however, we recognize this from a source close the file. We stress that the social movement intervenes within a "very difficult context". There have been many crises and evacuations from Kabul following the victory of the Taliban in August 2021, as well as the war in Ukraine, expulsions of diplomats from Russia, and the crisis with Mali...
There are approximately 13,500 agents (permanent and contractual, local, recruitment, etc.). According to official statistics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs employs approximately 13,500 agents (permanent, contractual, local recruitment etc.).