The Council of Ministers presents the text to delay the retirement age by two years, up to 64 years, which will now be debated in the Assembly
The French government has approved this Monday its controversial pension reform, despite the strong opposition it has generated and in the midst of protests and strikes to prevent it from going ahead. The Council of Ministers has given the green light to the measure, which means push back the retirement age by two yearsfrom the current 62 to 64.
“To retire before the age of 64 is to give up the balance of the system”has made clear the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, during the presentation of the normative project. The Government thus does not give in to pressure from the street and continues with the initial plan, which is “the result of work with the union organizations”, recalled the Minister of the Public Service, Stanislas Guerini.
More than 70% of the French reject the measure, considering that it harms workers with more precarious jobs and the less wealthy classes, among other arguments. They believe that it represents a regression of the rights acquired over decades. The text, which now has to be debated in the Assembly, can “be improved” during the parliamentary debate, but “the essential elements, which cannot be modified”, Guerini said.
“We know what needs we have and we must move forward,” French President Emmanuel Macron said this Sunday, adding that protests to the project “are part of democratic life, which allows discontent to be expressed.” “There are some political times that must be respected, I hope that the Government, with the parliamentarians in the Assembly and later in the Senate, can work on the text and organize it,” he warned.
The unions, united for the first time in twelve years (since the approval of the previous reform, which delayed the retirement age from 60 to 62) have announced more mobilizations. After the strike last Thursday, they have called another day of protest for the next January 31.
The general secretary of the CGT union, Phillipe Martinez, asked for more forcefulness on Sunday for that date. On Thursday there were demonstrations in 150 cities across the country and the one in Paris, the largest, brought together more than a million people. The unions aspire to paralyze the country and have even threatened to cut off electricity to some parliamentarians who support the reform. The Minister of Labor has warned that “not everything is acceptable” and that, within the protest mobilizations, “there are some that may constitute a crime.”
If the unions try to force Macron to rectify, what he hopes is that the project will quickly pass the parliamentary stages until its final approval and thus avoid collapse. The government does not have parliamentary support and only the Republican party has said that voting forwhich will allow you to move forward.
The far right Marine LePen He called the reform “horribly brutal and ineffective as well as profoundly unfair to the French.” His group, National Regrouping, will present a motion in the Assembly to be able to submit this project to a referendum and have the French vote for it, as he explained.
France is below the EU average in terms of retirement age and the government argues that the system is in deficit, since there are more people collecting a pension than active workers to pay them. The text will be examined on January 30 in a commission in the Assembly and from February 6 the parliamentary debate will open.
In addition to making the French work two more years before retiring, this reform wants to eliminate the special regimes that exist in France and that allow employees of some public sector companies (EDF, SNCF) to retire much earlier. The bill does allow this privilege to those who work in risky professions.
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