French Pension Fury :- PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that he hoped his contentious pension reform bill, which was rammed through parliament without a vote, could finish “its democratic voyage” a day before key votes in parliament.
The contentious law, which has sparked months of protests in parliament and on the streets, will be passed in parliament on Monday unless one of two votes of no-confidence in the government is passed.
“After months of political and social deliberation and more than 170 hours of debate that ended in the voting of a compromise text between the (two )” chambers…,” Macron stated his hope that “the pension document may go to the conclusion of its democratic journey with respect for everybody.”
Statement to AFP
His remarks were made in a statement to AFP by the president’s office.
Macron’s proposal, if implemented, would raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, as well as increase the number of years people must contribute to the system in order to earn a full pension.
After weeks of generally peaceful protests, the government’s decision last week to invoke Article 49.3 of the constitution to drive the law through parliament without a vote sparked outrage on the streets.
Threats and intimidation were reported against two key members of the right-wing Republicans party, whose leader has stated that they will not support no-confidence resolutions.
A tiny group of moderate Lawmakers and the far-right National Rally submitted the two no-confidence resolutions on Monday.
If the no-confidence resolutions fail, as most analysts think, left-wing lawmakers have stated they will move to the Constitutional Council to question the way the administration drove the change through.
“There will be no majority to pull the government down,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said of the two attempts to topple the cabinet scheduled for Monday afternoon.
The government’s decision last week to use Article 49.3 of the constitution, which permits a law to be forced through parliament without a vote, sparked a fourth day of demonstrations on Sunday.
“I’m filled with a sense of enormous rage,” Isabelle Desprez, a 54-year-old math teacher protesting in Lille, told AFP.
According to Laurent Berger, chairman of the moderate CFDT union, “we went from feeling hated to feeling angry, particularly because we robbed employees of the outcome of their demonstrations.”
“This bitterness and fury must serve the demonstrations peacefully and not be politically exploited,” he stressed.
Thursday will be the ninth day of strikes and protests.
After two nights of confrontations, police shuttered Paris’ Place de la Concorde opposite the parliament for protesters on Saturday.
About 122 individuals were detained after setting fire to garbage cans, destroying bus stations, and erecting impromptu barriers around a 4,000-strong rally in the capital.
Police detained 17 more individuals on Sunday as protestors stormed the Les Halles shopping mall in downtown Paris.
Away from main city streets, the CGT said on Saturday that workers will shut down France’s largest oil refinery in Normandy, with two more possible on Monday.
Strikers have so far only hindered gasoline deliveries from exiting refineries, rather than entirely halting operations.
Industrial action has also suspended garbage collection in most of Paris, resulting in thousands of tons of waste on the streets, even as the government used requisition powers to compel certain binmen back to work.
The administration claims that pension reforms are necessary to avert devastating deficits in the future decades as France’s population ages.
“Those of us who can will need to work more gradually to fund our social model, which is one of the most generous in the world,” Le Maire added.
Opponents of the reform argue that the rule unfairly burdens low-wage workers, women, and individuals undertaking physically demanding tasks, and polls routinely show majorities against the measures.
Around 500,000 high school students will begin the first day of the 2023 Baccalaureat examinations on Monday, against a backdrop of supervisor strike threats.