Macron, unions head for French pension reform showdown

Macron, unions head for French pension reform showdown

Retirement age to rise to 64 from 62 Unions, left opposition oppose reform Parliament approval depends on right

PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) – French people should work two more years until age 64 before retiring, the government said on Tuesday, announcing an unpopular overhaul of the pension system that immediately prompted unions to call for strikes and protests.

The right to retire at a relatively young age is deeply valued in France and the reform will be a major test of President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to deliver change as social discontent grows over the cost of living.

The passage of the reform in the parliament will not be easy. Macron’s government says it is vital to keep the pension budget out of the red. Unions argue that the reform is unfair and unnecessary.

“Nothing justifies such a brutal reform,” Laurent Berger, leader of the moderate and reform-minded CFDT union, told reporters after union leaders agreed to a nationwide strike on January 19, which will kick off a series of strikes. and protests.

An Odoxa survey showed that four out of five citizens are against raising the retirement age.

“I am aware that changing our pension system raises questions and fears among the French,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said at a press conference earlier.

“We offer today a project to balance our pension system, a project that is fair,” she said, adding that France must face reality.

Overhauling the pension system was a central pillar of Macron’s reformist agenda when he entered the Elysee Palace in 2017. But he left his first attempt in 2020 in limbo as the government struggled to ameliorate COVID-19.

The second attempt will not be easier.

“It’s one slap in the face after another,” said 56-year-old Frederic Perdriel during a small protest in the western city of Rennes before Borne’s announcement. “There are other ways to finance pensions besides raising the retirement age.”


Macron and Borne will need to win the support of conservative Les Republicains (LR) lawmakers in the coming months to pass the reform in parliament.

That looks less challenging than a few weeks ago after concessions on the retirement age – Macron had originally wanted it to be 65 – and a minimum pension.

Olivier Marleix, who leads the LR group in the lower house of parliament, has reacted positively to Borne’s announcements.

“They listened to us,” he said, as he called for more efforts to provide employment for people close to retirement age.

Even so, LR is split on this issue, so every vote counts.

The Socialists, the hard-left La France Insoumise (Unyielding France) and the far-right National Rally were quick to denounce the reform. Left-wing MP Mathilde Panot called the plan “archaic, unfair, brutal, cruel”.

“The French can count on our determination to block this unjust reform,” said far-right Marine Le Pen.

Under the government’s plan, the retirement age will rise by three months a year from September, reaching a target age of 64 in 2030.

From 2027, eight years earlier than planned in previous reforms, it will be necessary to have worked 43 years to receive a full pension.

Other measures aim to boost the employment rate among 60-64-year-olds, which is one of the lowest among major industrialized countries.

With one of the lowest retirement ages in the industrialized world, France also spends more than most countries on pensions at nearly 14% of economic output, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Leigh Thomas, Stephane Mahe, Tassilo Hummel, Blandine Henault; writing by Ingrid Melander; editing by Richard Lough, Alexandra Hudson and Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *