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Movement against pension reform, Tuesday at Place d'Italie à Paris. Twitter

French unions announce more marches after Tuesday’s success

Following the second day of mass mobilisation against the Macron administration's pension reform, the unions have announced new social movements on 7 and 11 February.

Published: February 1, 2023, 9:11 am

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    After 19 and 31 January, the unions do not intend to stop there to show their opposition to the pension reform. At a press conference organised by the main unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, Unsa, Solidaires, FSU), they announced a third and fourth day of mobilisations on Tuesday evening.

    They will be held on Tuesday 7 and Saturday 11 February, reported BFMTV. “The government must listen to the massive rejection of this project and withdraw it,” said Patricia Drevon, Confederal Secretary of Force Ouvrière, at the press conference. According to her, “no one has been fooled by the government’s propaganda”, and the movement must therefore continue.

    The movement is growing

    The protests of this Tuesday gathered at least 1.2 million people across France according to the figures of the Ministry of the Interior. This is an increase compared to the previous mobilisation on 19 January, when 1.1 million people took to the streets in many French cities. In Paris, the mobilisation was also higher with 87 000 participants compared to 80 000 on the previous day of mobilisation.

    The CGT believes about 2.8 million participants had taken part throughout the country on Tuesday 31 January.

    The day after the second mobilisation against the postponement of the retirement age to 64, the government nevertheless continued to defend its bill.

    Invited Wednesday on France 2, Olivier Dussopt “took note” of the mobilization that he considered to be “large”. “It’s no use being in denial,” continued the Minister of Labour.

    This fact should push the administration to explain, to convince, and do so with humility. If there is “room for manoeuvre” to improve the bill (currently being examined in committee at the National Assembly), particularly on the senior index, the government is not leaving any stone unturned regarding the postponement of the age to 64, he said.

    But the government is in no mood to be humble about their pet project. On the eve of the arrival of the bill in Parliament, French PM Elisabeth Borne made it known that retirement at 64 was “no longer negotiable”.

    “I agree with what the Prime Minister says,” said Gabriel Attal on France Inter. The Budget Minister also mentioned the employment of senior citizens and the possibility of discussing “binding measures” to encourage companies.

    Faced with the massive mobilization, Elisabeth Borne said on Tuesday that she had “heard” the “questions” and “doubts” about the pension reform. The parliamentary debate “has started” continued the Prime Minister.

    Leftist NUPES helping Macron to pass the bill

    While the unions are pressuring the Macron administration, it is possible that this pension reform will be rejected by the National Assembly because the The New Ecological and Social Popular Union (NUPES) has tabled thousands of amendments that can deprive the French of their victory.

    “By filibustering, the NUPES can deprive the National Assembly of the opportunity to reject the pension reform. If this happens, then it [NUPES] will bear the responsibility,” said Marine Le Pen.

    “I support the mobilisation against the pension reform and I am pleased that it is even greater today. For our part, we are present in the National Assembly to oppose this useless and brutal reform.”

    Le Pen added: “Elisabeth Borne started the week by adding fuel to the fire, as she indicated that it was impossible to envisage any negotiation. I feel like I am reliving the Yellow Vests.”

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon said that the NUPES deputies had tabled a referendum motion which should be defended on Monday 6 February in the National Assembly. “If we want to democratically arbitrate the conflict that opposes us, then let’s make the French people vote,” concluded the far-left activist. But after a draw on Tuesday 31 January, the Presidency of the Assembly finally allowed the National Rally to defend its referendum motion on pensions.

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