France Rejects Proposed Pension Reform
Paris, March 7 – On Tuesday, employees in almost all sectors of the French economy began indefinite strikes against the pension reform of President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which includes raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, and more than 270 demonstrations will be held in the country.
“Humanitarian catastrophe”, “Black Tuesday”: this is how the French authorities call March 7 – the day when the trade unions announced the start of nationwide professional strikes in the country in order to force the government to refuse to raise the retirement age.
Leading French unions, including the General Confederation of Workers (CGT) and the French Democratic Confederation of Workers (CFDT), are calling for action as broad as possible to “bring the French economy to its knees” if the government does not withdraw reform. project.
Energy, transportation and education
Some workers in the energy sector announced the start of the strike on Friday, when employees of French nuclear power plants went on strike. Thus, Flamanville NPP, Paluel NPP and Saint Alban NPP began to produce 1000 megawatts of electricity less, which is equivalent to the capacity of one nuclear power unit. Energy company EDF also confirmed lower productivity at Trikasten NPP and Kattenom NPP.
Since Monday, workers in the gas sector have joined them. Staff at three of France’s four LNG terminals – two at Fos-sur-Mer (Fos-Cavaou and Fos-Tonkin) and Saint-Nazare – said they had been shutting down operations for a week. During the strike, gas will not be supplied to the networks of the French gas operator GRTgaz, LNG tankers will not be unloaded and tanker containers will not be filled.
Oil refinery workers are also expected to join the strikes, whose protests in the fall led to severe fuel shortages at gas stations in France. The trade union group CGT-FO-CFDT has already announced the start of an indefinite strike at the Donge refinery owned by TotalEnergies.
Because of the strikes in France, train and public transportation will be severely disrupted. However, traffic on the Paris metro will not come to a complete halt. On most lines, trains will run during peak hours, but they will run at increased intervals. Only 1 and 14 autolines will work without changes. Every second train will run on the RER train lines, and tram and bus traffic will also be reduced.
France’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) reports that Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Beauvais airports, as well as airports in France’s largest cities, will reduce the number of flights by 20-30% on March 7-8. .
Strikes will be actively supported by employees of the educational sector. According to the Snuipp-FSU Elementary School Union, no more than 60% of employees will show up for work on Tuesdays. Trade unions called for the “total closure of schools, institutes, schools and colleges” on 7 March.
Jean-Eude de Mesnil, Secretary General of the French Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises (CPME), said on Monday that one day a strike in France would cost the country 1.5 billion euros.
The French authorities fear the scale of the protests. Transport Minister Clement Bonne and Labor Minister Olivier Dusseau urged not to blockade the country and not to “punish the French,” while French Prime Minister Olivier Ferrand said that state obstruction is “an environmental and agricultural risk and a health disaster.”
In addition to the strikes, multiple demonstrations will take place in France on Tuesday against the bill calling for the CGT, FO, CFDT, FSU, Unsa and Solidaires trade unions. France is expected to witness more than 270 demonstrations. According to BFMTV, about 1.1-1.4 million people are expected to participate in it.
Islah and the sixth wave of protests
French Prime Minister Elizabeth Born on January 10 presented a draft pension reform, which the government plans to adopt in 2023. According to her, the authorities will begin to raise the retirement age in the country by three months annually from September 1, 2023. Thus, by 2030 He will be 64 years old.
The main reason for the reform is that the French government calls a shortage of budget funds to finance payments to pensioners. According to official figures, 13.5 billion euros have been lost this year. The reform by 2030 will allow the mobilization of more than 17 billion euros to meet these needs. As Born said in an interview with France 5 television on the eve of the start of the strikes, the reform is a forced consequence of the demographic situation in a country with a high rate of aging of the population. The minister explained that if citizens do not want to work more, the authorities will have to either raise taxes or reduce pension payments.
The bill caused a wave of protests in French society. In France, there have already been five national demonstrations against the Reformation. The first nationwide strike took place on January 19, with more than 200 demonstrations taking place on this day, with the largest events taking place in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille and Nantes. According to the country’s Ministry of the Interior, more than a million people took part in it, including 80 thousand in Paris.
The second nationwide strike against raising the retirement age, held on Jan. 31, was attended by 2.8 million people, 87,000 of them in Paris, according to the CGT (CGT) trade union. The number of participants on the third day of the demonstration against pension reform was much lower than the number of those who gathered in previous protests. Thus, according to the country’s Ministry of the Interior, about 757,000 people took part in demonstrations across France, including 57,000 in Paris. The fourth measure brought together 963,000 people, according to the Interior Ministry, with a record 93,000 in Paris. The fifth protest movement was characterized by weak mobilization of citizens, which the unions attributed to the period of vacations and school holidays. According to the Ministry of the Interior, about 440,000 people protested in France, including 37,000 in the capital.
What do the numbers say
According to a poll conducted by Elabe for BFMTV on Monday, 67% of French people oppose reform. Two out of three French people consider it “optional” and “unfair”. At the same time, 63% of the French answered that they support the protest movement, even if they do not participate in it. However, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) are confident that the protests will not lead anywhere.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s approval rating has fallen to a record low in three years amid a controversial and unpopular reform. His actions, according to an Ifop poll for Journal du Dimanche published earlier in February, are supported by only 32% of the population.
Pension reforms in France have always been accompanied by mass protests, but the French only once managed to achieve results. So, in 1995, the reform of the then Prime Minister Alain Juppe, according to which retirement took place at the age of 60, paralyzed France for 3 weeks. The government had to abandon the bill. In 2003, the reform prepared by François Fillon led to mass protests, but the government managed to reach an agreement with the unions. Under Nicolas Sarkozy, the French lost the right to retire at the age of 60. Then the French set a record: on October 12, 2010, more than 3 million people took part in demonstrations against reform, and strikes at refineries led to an acute shortage of fuel at gas stations in the country.
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