In France, the National Assembly continues to debate, this Tuesday (7), the pension reform proposed by President Emmanuel Macron, despite the general strike movement in the country. The new text seeks to increase the minimum age for applying for retirement by two years, as well as the contribution time and review special pension systems. Trade unions and popular movements start the third day of national demonstrations.
According to the Central General de Trabajadores, there are around 400 thousand people mobilized in the center of Paris in rejection of the project. In Nantes, in the northwest of the country, 20,000 people have been confirmed, and in Rennes around 14,500 people. To the south, in Bordeaux, there are about 10,000 demonstrators. The Ministry of the Interior confirmed the existence of acts in 200 French cities with the presence of more than 1 million people.
Two out of three French people are opposed to raising the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64, according to the French Institute of Public Opinion (Ifop).
The debate began on Monday night (6) in the House plenary, and the vote should take place next Saturday (11). Macron expects the bill to be approved in the Senate by March 26 and come into force from September of this year, applying the increase in the minimum age gradually, every three months until 2027. If the new text is approved, the French people will be able to demand retirement, with discounts, from the age of 64 and will only be entitled to the full amount of the pension after the age of 67. Only the military were left out of the reform.
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For the leader of the Left Party, which founded the France Insubmissa movement, Florence Poznanski, the reform will lead to an increase in the mass of unemployed and precarious workers in France.
“Today, older people already have a lot of difficulty finding and staying in jobs because they are the first to be fired. So we will have people who will reach the end of their economically active lives with difficulty earning income, having a job, and will still have pensions precarious”, he analyzes in an interview with Brazil in fact.
The government’s justification is that there is a hole in the pension system accounts and therefore it would be necessary to increase the years of contribution or the minimum age to apply for retirement. “But it has already been proven that this is a lie. There is no imminent risk of bankruptcy of the social security system”, defends Florence Poznanski.
The current account deficit would be temporary due to the imbalance between people who are retired and people who are contributing to social security.
The union centrals have already organized two days of national strike in rejection of the reform and launched a new call for Saturday, but the acts remain in several regions of the country. “The objective is to maintain pressure,” Manuel Bompard, deputy of France Insubmissa, told local French media.
Train services and national flights were affected, as well as visiting tourist attractions in the country, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum.
The governing party, República em Marcha, lost an absolute majority in parliament in the legislative elections of April last year, with the increase in left-wing representation. For this reason, Macron needs the support of other right-wing groups to approve the reform.
“The traditional right has already signaled support, but it can change quickly. So the context is not so clear and the mobilization is great”, evaluates Poznanski.
The left-wing coalition Nova União Popular Ecológica e Social (NUPES), composed of 131 deputies, proposed that the changes be approved in a referendum, but the proposal was blocked by 292 votes against 243 in favor in the session last Monday (6).
If the text of the reform is not approved by the majority of parliamentarians, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said that she can resort to Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which authorizes the Prime Minister to take the project forward in the Legislature if she receives the approval of the Council of Ministers. In this legislature, Borne has resorted ten times to article 49.3 to carry out policies without a parliamentary majority.
In this case, in addition to maintaining the mobilization, Florence Poznanski claims that the last resort to bar the reform would be to file a lawsuit with the Constitutional Council, which could declare the legal inconsistency of the proposal. “But the people are willing to fight and that’s great news,” she concludes.
Editing: Arturo Hartmann