French prepare to strike against Macron’s pension reform
Published 01/12/2023 3:28 PM
Refineries, transport, public service, education. Just two days after Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced the pension reform project, the eight main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Unsa, Solidaires, FSU) foresee a “powerful” mobilization in January 19th. The general secretary of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, even intends to “do better” than in 1995, in a context where popular dissatisfaction is greater.
In some sectors, the strike can be renewed on January 26 and also on February 6.
The political cost of the reform intended by Emmanuel Macron could prove to be very high, as it opens up space for the extreme right of Marine Le Pen in the next elections. By making rapid savings in the social security system, at the expense of months and then additional years of work imposed on the French, the political challenge will be to convince with their reforming will, to co-opt the republican right and to try to get through the winter of demonstrations.
The history and comparison of pension reforms teach, however, that the political consequences of unpopular reforms are measured in the medium term, in the elections that follow the announced measures. All social security changes were followed by defeats of the force that imposed them. French workers know how to organize unforgettable demonstrations that will last in their memory until election day.
In addition, the right wants the government to use article 49.3 of the Constitution, which Madame Borne avoids using lightly, as it causes revolt in the opposition. Paragraph 3 of article 49, known as the “commitment of responsibility”, allows the Government to approve the text it presents, without a vote, under cover of rejecting the motion of censure that a tenth of the Assembly must present.
The call for a strike by the CGT unions in the oil sector revives the bad memory, still very recent, of the blockade of fuel depots in the autumn of 2022 . This Thursday, January 12, the sector’s union representatives invited workers to mobilize for several days: January 19 and 26, as well as February 6 with “if necessary, the closure of refining facilities”, according to a note. disclosed by Éric Sellini, national union coordinator of TotalEnergies. The appeal will lead to a “decrease in yield” and stoppages in fuel shipments.
Unions of major transport companies announced on Wednesday their determination to oppose pension reform. The message from the trade union central is clear: “total opposition to the reduction of the legal retirement age to 64 accompanied by an increase in the contributory period”. Furthermore, the organizations “stand ready to launch the necessary battle” and call for a press release “for a powerful strike” on the railways on January 19th. “Division and inaction have no place,” insisted the four railway federations.
On the side of the RATP, where 40,000 workers are subject to a special pension regime that the government intends to reform, the unions CGT, FO, Unsa and CFE-CGC declared themselves “ready” to oppose it, without issuing a strike notice for While. The reform bill would change the statutory retirement age by two years, including for employees with RATP status who can retire early.
The civil service inter-union also invited, on Wednesday, all agents to mobilize against a pension reform considered “unfair and unnecessary”. In a rare joint press release, the eight trade union organizations representing the public service “demand the Government to withdraw its project to postpone the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years and to increase the contributory period”.
The FSU, the first union federation of teachers, launched on January 17th an appeal for mobilization in education, on wages, working conditions and professional careers. Now, the organization also joins the January 19 general strike. She denounced “brutal and unfair measures” that “we must fight with all our strength”, in a note published on January 10.
social security reform
The Government intends to raise the age retirement legal to 64 years from 2030 (compared to 62 currently). From September 1, 2023, the legal age will be increased by a quarter each year, reaching 64 years in 2030.
At the same time, the contributory period to benefit from a full pension will be increased to 43 years from 2027 (the 2014 pension reform provided for an extension of the contribution period to 43 years in 2035).
The full retirement age (without deduction) remains fixed at 67.
In order to finance the pension scheme, a contribution will be requested from companies, which will be compensated by reducing the contribution to the scheme for accidents at work.
the value of minimum pension will be increased by 100 euros in September 2023.
In addition, the Government foresees the gradual closure of special pension schemes (jobs with unhealthy factors) for new hires as of September 2023.