Massive protests rocked France on December 19 and December 17, as hundreds of thousands of people mobilized against the controversial pension reforms proposed by the French government. The call for the continuing protest was given by unions including the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Solidaires, Workers’ Force (FO), UNL, among others.
Workers across the country have been protesting the reforms for months. On December 18, following the latest round reports emerged that French president Emmanuel Macron hinted at a compromise on the proposals. However, the unions, especially the CGT, have reiterated that “without the announcement of the withdrawal, there will be no truce.”
As per the government’s proposal, from 2025, workers in France will have to toil till the age of 64 in order to avail of 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 its reform bill passed before the summer of 2020. However, critics claim that the new system will introduce considerable uncertainty in the pension system and will also lead to the withdrawal of several benefits.
Political parties, including the French Communist Party (PCF), youth groups like MJCF, and student groups including the UEC joined the protests on Tuesday. In solidarity with the protests, the PCF demanded that the French government fix corporate financial contributions at the same level as employees, ensure strict pay equality between women and men, increase the minimum wage by 20% and offer new rights to all employees. The rights the PCF are demanding include retirement at 60 with a pension calculated over the best 10 years (and the last 6 months for teachers) and a guarantee that no pension is less than a minimum wage.
On December 5, 1.5 million people took part in various demonstrations held in at least 250 locations across the country against the reforms. Protests have continued in France ever since the anti-worker proposal was made by the Macron-led government. The unions have also called for a national strike and demonstrations on December 19 , along with local mobilizations until the end of the year.`