Escalation of protests in France returns to challenge Macron’s pension reform


The second call for protests against the pension reform of the President of France, Emanuel Macron, filled the streets of the main French cities. The acts bring together students, workers, trade unionists and feminists this Tuesday (31), after surveys indicate that at least 61% of the population rejects the government’s proposal.

Announced on the 10th by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the restructuring aims to raise the minimum age for retirement from 62 to 64 years by 2030 and extend the years of contribution from 42 to 43 years in 2027 as a condition for access to the full pension. .

The inter-union board, which brings together for the first time in 12 years the eight largest union centers in France, claimed to have gathered 500,000 people in Paris — 100,000 more people than in the first general strike of its campaign against reform, which took place in last day 19.

The group claims to have mapped protests in 250 cities across the country, a 25% increase compared to the first chapter of the campaign. Cities such as Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and Nantes were also the scene of larger demonstrations, according to unions.

The escalation in mobilization seems to correspond to the government’s rise in tone. Borne declared on Sunday (29) to Franceinfo that the new minimum retirement age “is no longer negotiable”.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin accused Nupes (New Popular Ecological and Social Union), a coalition of leftist parties, of “turning the country into a brothel”. He also denounced what he called the “profound contempt for the value of work” on the part of the French left.

This is because, on Monday (30), the National Assembly began debates on the reform. It was the first step to examine about 5,000 amendments to the project admitted among more than 7,000 submitted by Nupes.

Engineer Marie Odile Marche, 53, is one of the protesters who joined the movement in this second act. “I saw a survey by Oxfam that points out that charging 2% more taxes on those with the highest salaries would generate enough resources to sustain Social Security as it is today”, she says. “And I am willing to pay more taxes to have a more equal country.”

Student Isha Nazir, 18, also debuted his dyed green hair at retirement protests on Tuesday. “I don’t think this system is healthy for anyone. And if it’s already bad for those who work today, can you imagine what it will be like when I retire?”, he ponders. “I don’t know if the movement will succeed, but I have the impression that we are at a turning point. There are a lot of people in the streets.”

The teachers’ union in France announced that there was a strike of 50% of teachers, but, according to the Ministry of Education, the percentage did not exceed 26%. During the morning, in Paris, pickets generated pushing between demonstrators and teachers at the doors of schools, and the police intervened.

In the train network, there were delays due to the adhesion of workers to the strike, which had strong participation from the energy and oil sectors.

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