Illustration photo – Demonstration in Paris against the pension reform proposal, March 7, 2023.
Paris – A wave of strikes and demonstrations continued in France today, disrupting, for example, rail traffic, airport operations or fuel deliveries. Today, young people and students also protested against the government's pension reform proposal. The French Senate tonight approved raising the retirement age from 62 to 64, a key and highly unpopular part of the government's pension reform. In the upper chamber, which is dominated by the right, 201 legislators voted for a higher retirement age, 115 of them were against, the AFP agency wrote.
The reform promoted by President Emmanuel Macron is very unpopular with the public, according to polls, and unions have repeatedly called demonstrations and strikes in protest. On Tuesday, according to the authorities, 1.28 million people took part in them across France, according to trade unions, up to 3.5 million.
The government realizes that people do not like the upcoming changes in the pension system, but claims that they are necessary to maintain its funding. “We are convinced that the alternatives – raising taxes, increasing the national debt, reducing pensions – would not have higher support among the public,” said cabinet spokesman Olivier Véran on Wednesday.
The government majority in the Senate wants to approve the entire reform proposal by Sunday. In the lower house, where Macron does not have a majority of votes, the government will have to get the support of lawmakers from other conservative parties to be able to push the law through, Reuters wrote. The discussion is very emotional, today, for example, socialist senator Monique Lubin told Labor Minister Olivier Dussopt that she is trying to “go back 40 years” with the reform.
Protests again hit the railways and the Paris metro today, but also air transport . Garbage has also started piling up in some neighborhoods in Paris. According to the town hall, 3,700 tons of waste were not taken away today.
Above all, today was accompanied by demonstrations of young people. Students blocked access to some universities and high schools, and several hundred led a protest march in Paris that briefly turned violent when a group of protesters broke away, vandalized bus stops and set fire to a car.
From a poll released today it emerged that four out of ten French people feel that they will not be able to keep their job until retirement. According to a 2019 Labor Ministry survey of 40,000 people, this applies to almost nine million French people, or 37 percent of employees.
This feeling is much stronger among people under 30 (59 percent) than among older people 50 years old (18 percent), who are closer to retirement. Also, 57 percent of women with young children believe they will not be able to keep their jobs until retirement.
Manual jobs that do not require special skills, such as production line work, are considered the “least sustainable” or in services, for example in hotels or restaurants. This feeling is shared by up to 58 employees with jobs associated with emotional demands or socio-economic insecurity, and 46 percent of people with heavy physical work.