After months of protests and debates, the deal is done. President Emmanuel Macron has used a special constitutional power to bypass a final vote in parliament and deliver on his controversial pension reform bill.
The bill, which has been derided by unions and workers alike, will now become law.
“We cannot bet on the future of our pensions,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said as she was taunted by lawmakers of the lower house. “This reform is necessary.”
Labour leaders are now calling for more demonstrations this weekend as well as another round on Thursday 23rd March. Few details are available yet, but are sure to come in the coming days.
Protests in Nice
In addition, spontaneous demonstrations sprang up in Nice, with 300 or so protesters gathering at the Place de la Liberation on the evening of Thursday 16th March to show their displeasure.
Gérard Ré, Secretary General of the CGT in the Alpes-Maritimes, said, “It is in the continuity of what has been happening for several weeks, that is to say a profound rejection of this reform.”
Representative for the Alpes-Maritimes and President of the Republican party Eric Ciotti refused to be baited, saying his party would not join in a censure movement.
“We don’t want to add chaos to chaos,” he said.
The Republicans weren’t entirely in agreement with him though, with certain members saying they will go their own way if a censure vote was held.
Though deeply unpopular, the pension reform measures are not out of line with the modern world. France’s current retirement age of 62 is far below other industrialised countries and costs the government a fortune at nearly 14% of economic output, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
It also shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, as Macron ran on a platform emphasising the need for pension reform in his re-election campaign.
As people live longer, healthier lives, the idea of raising the retirement age is in line with the times and may help keep France’s future budget out of trouble.
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Photo source: Assemblée Nationale / Facebook