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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Macron wants to tackle pension reform, unions threaten to go on strike

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Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is expected to present detailed plans on Tuesday, which are likely to result in an increase in the retirement age from the current 62 to 64 or 65 years. The French retire relatively early compared to citizens of other industrialized countries. Macron, who was unable to push through a pension reform in his first term of office, is likely to encounter resistance if he tries again, also given the lack of a parliamentary majority. In doing so, he could try to win over conservative Republican MPs to his side. If that fails, his last resort would be to use his constitutional powers as head of state to push the project through.

Strong resistance from the unions

The pension reform is considered extremely unpopular in France. But the government is pushing for changes to make retirement future-proof. Macron has to be prepared for tougher resistance from the unions to his plans than in 2020, as the reform-oriented CFDT union is also threatening to protest: “If the retirement age is raised to 65 or 64, the CFDT will do what we promised. We will oppose this reform by asking workers to mobilize,” CFDT boss Laurent Berger recently warned.

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Calls for strikes may gain more traction this time as many French people are frustrated by the loss of purchasing power during the current inflationary crisis. The government does not want to be dissuaded from its plan: “We will go all the way, because this is the only way our social model can survive,” said government spokesman Olivier Veran.

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