Strike against pension reform: do town halls have the right to close access to public services?
While a second mobilization against the pension reform takes place this Tuesday, January 31, some town halls have decided to close their doors as a sign of support for the strikers. If this scenario is very particular, it is not provided for by the legal texts.
“Solidarity Mayors”. This Tuesday, January 31, several gatherings and demonstrations are planned throughout France for the second day of strikes against pension reform. And the oppositions can also count on the support of certain mayors who responded favorably to the appeal of Fabien Roussel.
In fact, the secretary general of the Communist Party (PCF) called on the city councilors to close their town halls during this day to denounce an “unfair and unjustified” government project. Since then, several elected officials, like Anne Hidalgo (Paris), Patrick Bessac (Montreuil, in Seine-Saint-Denis) or even Pierre Gazon (Villejuif, in the Val de Marne), have decided to symbolically close their town hall in solidarity with the strikers.
The front of the mayors against the pension reform is widening. All mobilized on January 31! #SolidarityMayors #GreveJanuary31 pic.twitter.com/q3YpNWSvUI
— Fabien Roussel (@Fabien_Roussel) January 26, 2023
This scenario, which remains rare, is not provided for by the legal texts. However, the obligation of public service neutrality could be called into question.
“As he is not an employee, an elected official does not have the right to strike. The fact that an elected official decides to close a town hall is a bit problematic. This contravenes two principles of public service. It is about its continuity and the obligation of its neutrality. In the case of this January 31, the public service closes for political reasons, which we can hear or not”, explains to CNEWS Me Chloé Schmidt-Sarels, lawyer at the Lille bar specializing in administrative law, of the urban, environmental and rural planning.
“There are certain municipalities which have concluded agreements with a union to allow the continuity of certain services mentioned in the general code of local authorities such as school catering and reception of children under 3 years old”, she adds. .
Possibility of appeal for users
Nevertheless, according to Me Chloe Schmidt-Sarelsin the event of non-agreement with the unions, a user who cannot complete civil status procedures may appeal to the administrative court.
“For example, if a Frenchman cannot do his civil status procedures in due time, we can consider that he make an interim release to the administrative court to perhaps open the city hall. If this has harmed him, we can consider a compensatory remedy. This scenario is very special and it is not in the texts, ”she says.
“If all the agents go on strike in a town hall, not counting the mayor of course, and there is no agreement with the unions for the continuity of certain essential public services, the only answer is: no of public service”, she continues, noting that “if the mayor decides to close his town hall, he is obliged to pay his agents since he has” put them up against the wall “”.