Facing the 37th day of national demonstrations, Emmanuel Macron’s administration defied unions with a draft pension reform bill that included a contested clause on raising the retirement age by two years to 64.
After enduring on Thursday the first mass demonstration of 2020 in rejection of the pension reform promoted by President Emmanuel Macron, negotiations between the French government and trade unions failed to break the deadlock over pension reform as both sides stood firm ahead of a fifth day of nationwide protests.
With a public transport strike into its 37th day, Macron’s centrist administration defied unions with a draft pension reform bill that included a contested clause on raising the retirement age by two years to 64, News Agency Reuters reported.
PM Edouard Philippe expressed the reform must result in a balanced pension budget and that raising the retirement age is the best way to achieve this. The European nation spends the equivalent of 14% of GDP on pension payments.
The government stand has infuriated the protesters, including the reform-minded union French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) which on Friday rejected the government’s offer of further talks if in the meantime parliament begins debating the bill.
|| PÉTITION || Parce que l'âge pivot souhaité par le @gouvernementFR est aussi injuste qu'inutile, la CFDT vous invite à signer et partager massivement cette pétition pour réclamer le retrait de cette mesure d'âge et l'amélioration du projet de réforme !https://t.co/pVhsxSjJ78— CFDT (@CFDT) January 6, 2020
|| PETITION || Because the pivotal age desired by the @gouvernementFR is as unfair as it is unnecessary, the CFDT invites you to sign and massively share this petition to demand the withdrawal of this age measure and the improvement of the reform project!
CFDT boss, Laurent Berger told reporters that they agreed to take part of these talks on one condition: that the outcome is not fixed from the start. Unlike the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the first union accepts with the core principle of the government’s proposal, which is to replace France’s 42 pension systems and different retirement ages with a universal points-based system with the same rights for everyone.
But it rejects increasing the retirement age, which it says is “blind and unjust”.
For Emmanuel Macron a victory against CFDT is crucial in breaking the united block of unions that opposes his reform, as the CGT and other hardline unions want the reform bill withdrawn altogether.
Demain, j’adresserai aux organisations syndicales et patronales des propositions concrètes qui pourraient être la base de ce compromis. Elles porteront notamment sur les objectifs et les modalités de la conférence de financement. #retraites https://t.co/H0LSCZOsR2— Edouard Philippe (@EPhilippePM) January 10, 2020
Tomorrow, I will address to trade union and employer organizations concrete proposals which could be the basis of this compromise. They will relate in particular to the objectives and modalities of the funding conference. #retraites
After meeting union leaders on Friday, Edouard Philippe Philippe said he would send written concrete proposals to unions but he gave no indication of where the government might yield.
The legal retirement age will remain 62 but workers who leave at that point will not receive their maximum pension. The nationwide anti-reform demonstrations on Thursday brought 452,000 people on the streets, down sharply from 615,000 on December 17th and over 800,000 on December 5th.