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  • French workers on strike attend a demonstration in Paris, France, January 11, 2020.

    French workers on strike attend a demonstration in Paris, France, January 11, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 January 2020

The General Confederation of Labor warned that the current pension reform bill leaves many undefined things.

Tens of thousands of citizens marched through Paris against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reform. On Saturday, after 37 consecutive days of social unrest, lawyers and other groups of professionals joined the massive rally, which the French government tried to silence with tear gas.

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In the morning, public service workers and Yellow Vest protesters gathered at the Nation Square and marched towards the Republic Square. Along the way, the Police attacked the people by indiscriminately firing tear gas.

Repression was expected because the Macron administration does not know how to handle the situation. On Friday, the government failed once again in its attempt to simulate a real negotiation with trade unions.

"These aren't negotiations. These are discussions where things are presented to the labor unions and there is no budge," 45-year-old teacher Frederic Moreau said.

"So when negotiations do take place then maybe we will indeed be able to see how this movement will evolve but for now I haven't seen any serious announcements from the government."

Rouen: Wild demonstration. Pension reform strike January 11.

Macron's administration defied unions with a draft pension reform bill that included a contested clause on raising the minimum retirement age by two years to 64.

On Saturday, through a letter addressing unions, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that his government could withdraw plans to raise the retirement age if certain conditions are met. No details were provided, though.

The pension reform bill leaves many undefined things "until after it has been voted in," General Confederation of Labor (CGT) Secretary Philippe Martinez said and explained that the Macron administration is "basically asking us to trust them. I don't know if the French people will agree."

Over the last month, workers have been denouncing the low transparency of the pension reform proposal, which has many aspects that will generate problems for the less favored social groups.​​​​​​​

"Republic Square: police are cornered and forced to retreat in some places. Repression has affected children. Each baton and every little sentence from Macron reinforces the desire to make a battle. Strike on January 11. General strike. Yellow vests."

"If law firms have to double their contributions, not only will they disappear but it means that these firms will no longer be able to assist the destitute. We fear that the poorest will no longer be able to be represented by lawyers,” Julien Lalanne, a 33-year-old lawyer, said.​​​​​​​

The supposed "rationalization" of the French pension system implies much more than simply merging over 40 pension schemes into a single large national one.

“Macron means precarity, a servant to capital, the pension killer,” and “A more expensive pension system means a more precarious justice system,” were some of the phrases denouncing the real issues during the march.​​​​​​​

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