TODAY.AZ / Politics

Unions are fed up with Macron's defiance - big turmoil await France

06 June 2023 [16:15] - TODAY.AZ

French trade unions are planning to attract more than 500,000 supporters on Tuesday to participate in a nationwide day of action against raising the retirement age, Azernews reports, citing foreign media outlets.

Demonstrations and strikes are planned in Paris and 250 communes of the country. The protests come two days before an expected parliamentary vote on Thursday on an opposition bill to repeal the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64.

Mass protests

This will be the 14th day of mass protests against a government law that would raise the retirement age.

In a months-long wave of demonstrations, the unions showed strong opposition to the reform. Gerard Re, one of the coordinators of the nationwide action, said that this reform punishes first of all the workers with the lowest incomes, since by the end of their career they are unable to continue working for health reasons.

The government's measures are also pushing those who are already in dire need into even greater poverty, unions say. "I call on everyone to take to the streets," said General Secretary of the General Confederation of Labor Sophie Binet. She stressed that the scale of the action on Tuesday will affect the further fate of the movement.

Union assessments

Union headquarters expect marches across the country to draw between 400,000 and 700,000 people. As a result of the strike on the railway on Tuesday, every 10th train will not be on the line. At the Paris Orly airport, about a third of all flights are expected to be canceled that day.

Despite such disruptions to the usual life of society, according to a survey organized by the French Institute of Public Opinion (IFOP), holding a national day of action against the reform is supported by 57% of the country's inhabitants.

Nevertheless, the ruling camp categorically refuses to meet the strikers halfway and agree to a revision of the reform. The restoration of the right to retire at 62, according to government experts, would threaten the treasury with additional costs of € 15 billion in an environment where state debts are already at record highs.

Shooting marches

The Prefecture of Paris has warned that the authorities intend to film the marches with drones in order to monitor the situation on all routes. Police experts say there is a need to increase security in the light of acts of vandalism that have taken place during previous actions.

Police units make up sketches of riot instigators from the ranks of the anarchist Black Block movement. According to law enforcement officers, this underground movement has up to 1,000 rioters in its ranks, who deliberately provoke riots and clashes with policemen.

In the capital, a gathering of demonstrators is planned at 14:00 local time in front of the historic House of Invalids. Then the columns will head along the boulevard Montparnasse and the avenue Gobelins to the Place d'Italie on the left bank of the Seine. The police expect that up to 70 thousand people can go to the capital's march.

Law enforcement agencies are taking enhanced measures to ensure order during demonstrations. More than 4,000 policemen and gendarmes will be on duty in the capital.

Key provisions of the reform

A draft reform plan to raise the French retirement age from 62 to 64 and eliminate some special pension regimes was presented in January. The initiative immediately caused demonstrations and strikes throughout the country. On April 14, the French Constitutional Council supported the reform. He excluded several provisions from it, but approved the key one - raising the retirement age by two years.

After that, President Emmanuel Macron signed the document. The pension reform should come into force this autumn.

Protests will take place two days before the National Assembly (lower house of parliament) submits a bill by a group of independent deputies and representatives of overseas territories of France to cancel the reform for discussion in the National Assembly.

The country's government has already sharply criticized the initiative, calling it unconstitutional. On June 3, the Social Affairs Committee of the National Assembly rejected the first article of the bill, which contained a requirement to refuse to raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 for most categories of workers.


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