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France: Strikes and demonstrations for the seventh day against pension reform


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The French were called to demonstrate on Saturday, March 11, 2023, against reforming the pension system, a project put forward by President Emmanuel Macron that is causing public anger, on the seventh day of mobilization that constitutes a test for the continuation of the confrontation between the government and the unions.

The previous day of mobilization against this reform, Tuesday, witnessed mass movements, setting a record number of demonstrators that exceeded the peak achieved on January 31, whether according to the figures of the French Ministry of Interior (1.28 million demonstrators) or the unions (more than three million).

According to a source in the police, the participation today may range between 800,000 and one million people in the 230 demonstrations scheduled across France, including 70,000 to 100,000 in Paris.

This is the second mobilization announced on a Saturday so that employees can participate in it without having to register a strike day.

On the previous Saturday, February 11, 963,000 people took to the streets, according to the Ministry of the Interior, and more than 2.5 million people, according to the General Confederation of Labor. It is expected that the mobilization will be less today in light of the size of the ongoing demonstrations or that ended at noon.

This is the seventh day of movements since January 19 to protest the reform of the retirement system, specifically a clause in it that requires raising the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 years, which the majority of the French oppose, according to opinion polls, considering it “unfair”, especially for women and professionals. arduous.

An opinion poll conducted by the Elabe Institute for the BFMTV television network, the results of which were published on Saturday, revealed that 63% of the French support mobilization against reform, and 54% support strikes and paralyzing some sectors.

Before the start of the demonstration in Paris, the two major unions challenged the president to put his project to a referendum.

“Since he is confident in himself, let him consult the people. We will see the response of the people,” said the general secretary of the Confederation General of Labor, Laurent Berget, “Certainly one should go towards consulting his fellow citizens.”

The unions’ anger increased after Macron refused, on Thursday, a request from them to meet with him, considering that the path is now “before Parliament” after the “consultations” conducted by Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne and the amendments made to the text.

Macron said on Friday afternoon that the pension reform must proceed “until its conclusions” in Parliament, hinting that he does not rule out anything, including passing the law without putting it to a vote, according to an article in the constitution that allows the government to issue a legislative text without its approval in Parliament.

Constitutional weapon

On Friday, Labor Minister Olivier Dusopt resorted to the constitutional weapon, calling for a single vote in the Senate on the entire bill at once, which would preserve the about seventy proposed or accepted amendments by the government, without taking into account the other amendment proposals.

But even without debate or vote on the remaining 1,000 proposed amendments, its proponents can still present them. This mechanism allows to buy time and gives the left hope that the text “will not be put to a vote” before the due date at midnight on Sunday.

On Saturday morning the senators resumed their debates and at midday they still had about 680 amendment proposals to consider.

On Wednesday night, the parliament voted on Article 7 of the reform, which raises the retirement age by two years, which the state asserts is necessary to address the deterioration of the financial situation of pension funds with the aging population.

France is one of the European countries that adopts the minimum retirement age, although the retirement systems are not similar and cannot be compared.

The French president is betting a large part of his political assets by proposing this project, which he aspires to be the most prominent measure in his second term and symbolizes his determination to reform, but it encounters great rejection by the French.

It is not certain whether the extendable strikes that have taken place since Tuesday and affect key sectors of the economy, such as transportation, energy, and others, will continue.

In Paris, garbage is piling up in some departments, while the French Air Transport Authority asked airlines to cancel 20% of their flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday due to the strike of air traffic controllers.

Also, the French General Railways announced Friday that the transport traffic will be “extremely turbulent”, pointing out that this will continue into the weekend.

The Secretary-General of the Union of Energy Workers, Fabrice Codor, said on Friday that strikes will continue, especially in electricity production stations.

The strike of gas workers at all LNG terminals and gas storage facilities continues.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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