After months of struggle and massive countrywide mobilisations by trade unions and workers, French president Emmanuel Macron has been forced to make concessions in the controversial pension reforms planned by his government. In a last-minute bid to pass the pension reforms, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday, January 11, that the government was willing to concede on the workers’ demands of reversing the new proposed age for retirement with full benefits – 64, and to keep it at 62.
While few view this as a positive development, major unions in France, including the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), have called for intensifying the protests, and have called for large-scale mobilisations on January 14, 15 and 16, to demand a complete rollback of the proposed reforms.
Macron has been pushing hard to introduce a centralised points-based pension system in France by overhauling the current 42 different pension systems for various professions in the country. According to the government’s original proposal, from 2025, workers in France will have to toil till the age of 64 in order to avail full pension benefits. The current retirement age is 62. Additionally, the contributions of the employees during their careers will be graded as points, which will be used to calculate their pension amounts in Euros. As of now, each point has not been given a specific valuation as it is subject to fluctuations in the economy. The French government wants to pass the controversial reforms before the summer of 2020.
All the major trade unions in the country including CGT, Workers Force (FO), Solidaires, FSU, UNEF, MNL, among others, have been protesting against these reforms since their announcement in July. A month-longstrikein December had brought France to a standstill, and have now forced the government to announce concessions on the pivotal age for retirement.
However, the reforms remain unpopular. On January 11 – the 38th day of the continuing protests – half a million people reportedly hit the streets of France, with around 163 demonstrations being organised across the country to protest the pension reforms.