February 1, 2023

France prepares for strikes and protests against pension reform – News

France is preparing for a series of strikes and large-scale protests aimed at curbing a pension reform project that faces opposition from unions and parties on the far left and right.

The unions called for strikes and demonstrations next Thursday (19), the day that will be followed by more sectoral strikes in the coming weeks, while the government launched a media campaign and interviews to try to persuade public opinion.

For the time being, the public sector will see strikes on Thursday on railways, transport in the Paris region, education (including universities), police and prisons. In the private sector, there will be an energy strike, among commercial flight crews and other smaller sectors of the economy.

“The debate in the National Assembly will be based on mobilization and strikes. The battle will take place first in the companies and in the streets,” warned CGT General Secretary Felipe Martinez, in an interview with state television. France 3.


The goal: paralyze the country

The unions aim to paralyze the country, as happened in a series of major strikes in 1995 against Prime Minister Alain Juppe’s plan (under conservative Jacques Chirac) to reform the pension system, including private ones in public sector companies.

Five million working days were lost, four million in the public sector and one million in the private sector. On December 12 of that year two million people demonstrated across the country, according to unions (one million according to the police), and only three days later the government withdrew the bill.

“We can do better than it was back then,” Felipe Martinez said optimistically in remarks last Friday.

“The unions have the right to call for strikes and demonstrations, but not to besiege the country,” Labor Minister Olivier Dussopp warned Sunday.


The main points of the government’s plan are to increase the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030, and expect to increase the contribution from 42 to 43 years old until 2027 to enjoy a full retirement (so far it is expected for 2035).

Dussopt in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Corporation France Inter, indicates that the reform takes into account those who started working before the age of 20. For example, those who started their careers at the age of 18 will be able to retire at the age of 60 with their full pension: “They will work no more than those who started later.”


opposition

Opposition to the project reaches 68% of the French population, according to a survey by Ifop, one of France’s main research institutes, which was published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. The percentage is higher (71%) among young people, the working classes, and the unemployed.

These numbers can be explained by the fact that the government’s rhetoric about saving the pension system is “not working”, commented Frédéric Dappy, Director General of Opinion at Ifop.

However, Dabi sees a “weaker” desire to mobilize on the streets, as the government seems to have secured votes in both houses of parliament thanks to the support of the conservative party Os Republicanos, which is a given.

However, the government launched a major campaign of action and media presence to try to convince the population.

On Thursday, the day of mobilization, French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Barcelona for the Spanish-French summit with the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez.