French unions are saying “non” to Macron’s plan to overhaul the pension system.
President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to overhaul the country’s bloated pension system — created after World War II — has gotten a thumbs down from unions, according to Bloomberg, and they’ve now called an indefinite strike that could bring the country to a standstill at a time Macron needs the economy to hold up. It could also mean Emmanuel Macron is facing the biggest strikes of his presidency.
Reporting from The Guardian states that many schools were closed and even some police unions warned of “symbolic” closures of certain police stations. About half of the scheduled Eurostar trains between Paris and London were also cancelled. Tourists were turned away at the Eiffel Tower as 11 out of the 16 metro lines were shut in Paris, forcing commuters to scramble to hire bikes and scooters.
The government, which has already pushed through changes to tax and labor laws, argues that unifying the pensions system is crucial to keep the system financially viable as the French population ages, and says it’s open to tweaking its pension reform but won’t abandon it, says Bloomberg Politics. Unions, on the other hand, say introducing a “universal” system for all will mean millions of workers in both the public and private sectors must work beyond the legal retirement age of 62 or face a severe drop in the value of their pensions.
— Geraldine Amiel (@GeraldineAmiel) December 5, 2019
A plan with a past
The last serious attempt to touch the pension system was in 1995, when then-Prime Minister Alain Juppe’s proposal brought thousands of people into the streets and paralyzed France for about a month. The plan was dropped.
As William Horobin reports, this time might be different. Polls show a majority of the French consider the current system financially unsustainable and are in favor of Macron’s plan to simplify the complex web of benefit regimes.