Doctors, SNCF controllers… when online collectives are at the origin of strike movements

It all starts with the need to express one’s concern. When Christelle Audigier created the “Doctors for tomorrow” group on Facebook in early September 2022, this general practitioner in the metropolitan area of ​​Lyon wanted to open a discussion group » to reflect on the future of liberal medicine and “find solutions to improve (them) Work conditions “ the generalists. She had no idea that within a few weeks she would find herself at the head of a hyper-mediatized collective, the figurehead of a national mobilization movement.

In the full negotiation of a new agreement between Social Security and the unions, the group of liberal doctors, self-proclaimed. “non-union and apolitical”, called for several days of strike action in December and renewed mobilization this week. This Thursday, January 5, in the afternoon, a demonstration will start in Paris, from the Pantheon to the Ministry of Health, where the collective will be welcomed by Minister François Braun.

In the SNCF, the anger of the controllers “outside the system”.

From the first messages posted on networks to the negotiation table, everything went very quickly. According to Christelle Audigier, more than “1000 people a week” joined the Facebook page. This is the case of Gabrielle Gallet-Voisin, general practitioner in Mont-près-Chambord (Loir-et-Cher): “I heard about it through other groups. I quickly joined the collective and then offered my help because general medicine is at the end of its tether. » Doctors for Tomorrow claims to have more than 16,000 members on Facebook and more than 20,000 registered on its WhatsApp networks.

In SNCF, the ASCT national collective, for commercial trains of service agents, better known as “captains” or controllers, has followed the same trajectory: an accumulation of discontent, converging claims and the use of social networks to exchange and then mobilize. Until the organization of a strike which severely disrupted train traffic during the Christmas weekend.

In this sector of activity where unions still have a significant weight, the appearance of the collective has surprised. “It is a strike that we did not see coming, neither we nor the unions”. also recognized the CEO of SNCF Jean-Pierre Farandou. “Some members told us that a Facebook page was gaining traction.” recalls Didier Mathis, secretary general of UNSA-ferroviaire. On approached them. » The first contact was inconclusive. “These are dPeople outside the system, with very diverse needs, who were afraid of being “recovered”. Faced with controversy, the ASCT collective had to decide to leave the negotiations to the organizations and an agreement has been reached with SNCF managementending the conflict.

Regarding Doctors for Tomorrow, the unions are divided. “Some people put us ahead. Others preferred to stay in the background because of differences in merit. explains Christelle Audigier. Jérôme Marty, president of the UFML union, which shares the collective’s demands, wanted to invite them to the current contract negotiations. The organization of Franck Devulder, president of the Confederation of Medical Trade Unions of France, preferred to distance itself from the latest strike calls, which risk “decide K.-O. the French health system in the context of the triple epidemic that we currently know”.

Facebook, social and political network par excellence

However, the enthusiasm engendered by these virtual collectives is inversely proportional to that of traditional organizations, whether in a highly unionized profession like railroad workers or a less demanding one like doctors. “A Facebook group is much more flexible and much less committed than a union”, analyzes Nikos Smyrnaios, specialist in digital media and the political economy of the Internet. Moreover, as it is “The most widespread social network among middle-aged French, both populations are fully targeted”.

“When communication is done well, it will mobilize people who would not have spontaneously joined a union.” illustrates Arnaud Chiche, doctor and creator of the “Santé en danger” collective. Born in July 2020 after the first wave of Covid, her Facebook page, which aims “for all caregivers”, unites more than 220,000 people. Once demands are made known, however, only unions are authorized to carry them out. “It’s nice to empty the proposals, but you have to be in contact with the authorities so you can weigh in.” admits Arnaud Chiche. Didier Mathis, secretary general of Unsa-ferroviaire, confirms: “Social dialogue remains a matter for professionals. »

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The battle of figures for the mobilization of general practitioners

After the first move, 1er and December 2, the collective “Doctors for Tomorrow” had called for the closure of the offices from December 26 to January 2.

Its founder, Christelle Audigier, assures that the decline in the activity of general practitioners has been around 70%. during the period. Health insurance, he estimated, was only between 5% and 10%.

The collective’s main request is to increase the price of the consultation to €50, versus €25 currently, to create one “attractiveness shot” to the medicine of the city.

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