Doctors, SNCF controllers… when collectives created on the Internet are at the origin of strike movements

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

In 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 in December and renewed the mobilization this week. This Thursday, January 5 afternoon, a demonstration will set off in Paris, from the Pantheon to the Ministry of Health, where the collective is to be received by Minister François Braun.

At SNCF, the anger of “out of system” controllers

From the first messages posted on the networks to the negotiating table, everything went very quickly. According to Christelle Audigier, more than “1,000 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 then offered my help because general medicine is at the end of its tether. » Doctors for Tomorrow claims to date more than 16,000 members on Facebook and more than 20,000 registered on its WhatsApp loops.

At the SNCF, the national collective ASCT, for Agents du service commercial trains, more commonly known as “captains” or controllers, has followed the same trajectory: an accumulation of discontent, convergent claims and the use of social networks to exchange and then mobilize. Until organizing a strike which greatly disrupted the circulation of trains over the Christmas weekend.

In this sector of activity where the unions still have a significant weight, the emergence of the collective has surprised. “It’s a strike that we didn’t see coming, neither us nor the unions”, has also recognized the CEO of the SNCF Jean-Pierre Farandou. “Some members told us that a Facebook page was gaining importance,” recalls Didier Mathis, general secretary of UNSA-ferroviaire. On approached them. » The first contact was inconclusive. “These are dPeople outside the system, with very varied demands, who feared being “recovered””. Faced with the controversy, the ASCT collective had to resolve to leave the hand to the organizations for the negotiations and an agreement has been reached with the management of the SNCFending the conflict.

Concerning Doctors for tomorrow, the unions are divided. “Some people put us forward. Others preferred to remain in the background because of differences on the merits,” 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 Unions of France, preferred to distance itself from the recent strike calls, which risk “put K.-O. the French health system in the context of the triple epidemic that we currently know”.

Facebook, social and political network par excellence

Still, the enthusiasm aroused by these virtual collectives is inversely proportional to that of traditional organizations, whether in a highly unionized profession such as railway workers, or not very demanding such as doctors. “A Facebook group is much more flexible and much less engaging than a union”, analyzes Nikos Smyrnaios, a specialist in digital media and the political economy of the Internet. Moreover, as it is “the most widespread social network among middle-aged French people, the two populations are perfectly on target”.

“When communication is done well, it will mobilize people who would not spontaneously have 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, its Facebook page, which is aimed “to all caregivers”, brings together more than 220,000 people. Once the demands are known, only the unions are nevertheless authorized to carry them. “It’s nice to drain proposals but you have to be in contact with the authorities to be able to weigh”, concedes Arnaud Chiche. Didier Mathis, the general secretary of Unsa-ferroviaire, confirms: “Social dialogue remains a matter for professionals. »

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Battle of figures on the mobilization of general practitioners

After a first movement the 1er and December 2, the collective “Doctors for tomorrow” had called for the closing of the cabinets from December 26 to January 2.

Its founder, Christelle Audigier, ensures that the drop in activity of general practitioners has been around 70% over the period. The health insurance, it, estimated it only between 5% and 10%.

The main demand of the collective is the increase in the price of the consultation to 50 €, against 25 € currently, to create a “attractiveness shock” to city medicine.

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Doctors, SNCF controllers… when collectives created on the Internet are at the origin of strike movements


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