The French return to fill the streets against the pension reform
The protests against the pension reform proposed in France by the Government of Emmanuel Macron add a new chapter and there are already seven. The French have taken to the streets again this Saturday, albeit in smaller numbers, to make it clear that the rejection of society and unions is still present. The workers’ organizations have taken a step forward and have asked the Executive make a “query” while the project advances in the Senate through an accelerated procedure.
“What else is there to do?” Philippe Martínez, leader of the combative CGT, asked himself in statements to the press from the head of the demonstration that toured Paris this afternoon, from the Plaza de la República to the Plaza de la Nación.
The demonstrations were repeated all over the countryaccompanied by strikes and pickets whose effects have been felt throughout the week -especially since the 7th, when the last major day of national demonstrations took place- in sectors such as public transport, air traffic, energy and collection of rubbish, which has been accumulating in the streets of cities like Paris for days.
The unions sought to make it clear this Saturday that the popular unrest before the reform persists, but the demonstrations were less crowded than on other occasions. According to the CGT, in Paris 300,000 people demonstrated today200,000 less than the last time protests had been called on Saturday (February 11).
The Ministry of the Interior lowered the participation of the day to 48,000 people in the capital and estimated the protesters nationwide at 368,000. This last data, for the unions, exceeded one million.
“Today the only thing we can say is: yes (Macron) He is so sure of himself that he consults the French“, challenged the leader of the CGT, in response to the immovable position adopted by the French president against the demands of the unions, which this week asked, without success, to be received at the Elysée.
He was accused of “denial of the social movement” by Laurent Berger, general secretary of the French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT), also from Paris. Berger also appealed for a consultation with the French – who according to the polls are against the project by a clear majority – and warned the Government that “by dint of playing with fire, foolishness is done”.
“It is not necessary at all. The evidence is that even though everyone is against it and says that it will be of no use and that it has no reason to exist, the government is obstinate. He wants to approve it and he will have it approved,” Véronique, a French woman who attended the demonstration in Paris this Saturday, told EFE.
In Paris, people of all ages paraded, including families with children who carried signs questioning that at this rate, their children will not retire until “their 80s.” “(Macron) behaves like an emperor, he makes fun of the people,” Eric Le, a French retiree who protested today in solidarity with the “youth” and who accused the Executive of governing for the rich and big companies, told EFE.
The debate continues in the Senate.
Despite the discontent, the debate on the bill continued today in the Senate, with a accelerated procedure activated by the Government that allows to skip hundreds of amendments presented by the opposition to block the processing.
In this way, search avoid reaching the end of the term that the Senate has -on Sunday at midnight- without the upper house ruling on the reform, something that already happened in the National Assembly in the first reading.
This strategy has been the subject of harsh criticism from the left-wing opposition, from the unions and also from the ultra-right, which also rejects the project. “rule in brutality to impose a reform that the French do not want, that is their only objective,” said far-right leader Marine Le Pen on Twitter on Friday.
Nouveau coup de force du gouvernement qui vient de déclencher l’article 44.3 pour mettre fin au débat sur la réforme des retraites au Sénat. Gouverner dans la brutalité pour impose une réforme dont les Français ne veulent pas: voilà leur unique objectif!
— Marine Le Pen (@MLP_officiel) March 10, 2023
The ruling party, however, today received a breath of fresh air from the conservatives of Los Republicanos -its main partners in approving the reform, since the Macron bloc does not have an absolute parliamentary majority-, by withdrawing one of its star amendments.
The main axis of the reform promoted by Macron is push back the minimum retirement age by two yearsfrom the current 62 years to 64. The Government defends the changes as the only feasible way to guarantee the financial balance of the system by 2030, since, if nothing were done, it estimates that a deficit would accumulate in ten years of about 150,000 million euros.
After examination in the Senate, the project must be dealt with in a mixed joint commission to reach an agreement on a common text, which must then be validated by both chambers. Thus, the unions still do not see the lost battle and they will demonstrate again next Wednesday.