French Unions Call for New Strikes Over Pension Reforms

The controversial reform would progressively raise the legal retirement age by three months yearly, from 62 to 64 by 2030

.Jan 31, 2023

This Tuesday, after a new day of protests, French unions called two more days of strike action on February 7 and 11 against the pension reform pushed by the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

According to the main French trade unions, more than 2.5 million people joined the demonstrations today. For its part, the French Ministry of the Interior said that more than 1.27 million people took to the streets throughout the country.

On Tuesday evening, France’s largest union, the CGT, announced its intention to continue strikes at refineries on February 6, 7 and 8, which could lead to production stoppages at some sites, said Eric Sellini, coordinator of TotalEnergies.

On the second day of general mobilization, clashes broke out between some protesters and police in Paris, and tear gas and smoke bombs were fired, according to reports. Police confirmed the arrest of 23 people in the French capital.

The pension reform raises questions and doubts. We hear them. The parliamentary debate is beginning. It will allow us to enrich our project transparently, with one goal: to ensure the future of our pay-as-you-go system. This is our responsibility!

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said today via Twitter that the government has heard “the questions and doubts” raised by the pension reform. “The parliamentary debate begins. It will allow us to enrich our project transparently,” said the Minister.

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Last Sunday, Borne said that the progressive delay until 2030 of the increase in the retirement age as a solution to the deficit is “no longer negotiable.” The government has said that minor modifications are possible.


French Streets Flooded With Over 800,000 Protesters

Jan 31, 2023

On Tuesday, over 800,000 French workers took to the streets to reject President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64.

“We, workers, say now, loud and clear, in the biggest protest we have organized in 25 years: no to raising the minimum retirement age”, French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT) leader Laurent Berger stated, stressing that the goal of the unions is that social pressure prevents the approval of Macron’s bill.

About 25.92 percent of French teachers and a third of the National Society of French Railways (SNFC) employees participated in the demonstrations. Four national refineries also had at least 75 percent of their staff on strike.

“We ask French people for an effort. We cannot maintain the current pension system due to the population’s aging,” Work Minister Olivier Dussopt alleged.

The tweet reads, “Urgent: Great confusion in Paris. Police attack union march. People throw projectiles back at police.”

“In 1970, there were three French contributors for one retiree. Currently, there are 1,7 contributors for each pensioner,” Dussopt said, adding that France is one of the EU countries with the lowest retirement age (62).

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Berger, who is also the president of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), called on Dussopt to stop using this argument to extend working life, as the actual retirement age in France and the rest of the EU is very similar.

“After having worked all our lives, we want to not only survive our retirement but live for some time after it. This is the message we convey in the streets,” General Confederation of Labour (CGT) Secretary Philippe Martinez pointed out.

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