More Protests Roil France

The mobilization on Tuesday was the latest demonstration against a government initiative that is currently being discussed in the French Senate. While the bill calls for raising the retirement age, protesters want it lowered. 

Paris protest agains pension reform on Jan. 19, 2023. (Roland Godefroy, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Peoples Dispatch

On Tuesday, French workers took to the streets across the country denouncing the government’s controversial new pension reforms. Trade unions also participated in a general strike as part of their campaign for a “total shutdown” of the country while the French Senate is deliberating on the pension reforms bill.

Protesters organized massive demonstrations in 200 cities and towns, picketed workplaces and blocked roundabouts in major city centers, as was done at the time of the Yellow Vest protests. Student-youth groups also organized blockades in 39 universities across France.

The strikes have affected transport, schools, the energy sector, industries, municipal services and government offices, among others.

The mobilization on Tuesday continued a series of organized actions against the pension reforms. Protests began on Jan. 19 this year — organized by the coordination of trade unions, leftist parties and student-youth groups. Millions of people across France have taken part so far, demanding that the reforms be rolled back. Specifically, protesters have demanded an increase in wages and pensions and that the retirement age be brought down to 60.

According to L’Humanite, 65 percent of people in the country support the strikes and protests against the pension reforms proposed by President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which call for an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64 and also stipulate a mandatory 43 years of service before one is entitled to a full pension or benefits.

The pension reforms bill underwent two weeks of debate in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, but was passed over to the Senate before it could be voted on because of disagreements about raising the retirement age.

While trade unions and the left-wing coalition New Ecological and Social People’s Union (NUPES) have continued their opposition to the bill in the streets and in parliament, the Macron-led neoliberal government expects to pass the bill with the support of legislators from center-right parties.

On Tuesday, leader of the French Communist Party (PCF) Fabien Roussel said:

“Today, […] the coordination of the unions calls for France to ‘stop’ the unfair pension reform that the government wants to impose. The working world hasn’t been this united in a struggle for decades. We can win and push back the government.”

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.

3 comments for “More Protests Roil France

  1. robert e williamson jr
    March 9, 2023 at 14:59

    Valerie 3-09-2023 @ 09:14 –

    “The second video looks like a harbinger of things to come all over Europe.”

    You bet it does and, hopefully, the same show may soon be coming to a street near you.

    I’d like to remind everyone once again of something W. Churchill is to have said about Americans. Words to the effect of, ” You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.”

    At this particular point in time I’m hoping Biden & Co. are running out of options.

    Thanks CN

  2. Valerie
    March 9, 2023 at 09:14

    The second video looks like a harbinger of things to come all over europe. I met a young German this morning and asked him about the anti-war protests in Germany. He said they are always reported with many less people and they are calling them nazis and instigators.

  3. James Whitney
    March 8, 2023 at 12:18

    Macron’s program for raising the retirement age by two years is a tightening of his program of austerity for most of the population, all except the very well-to-do. It corresponds to the economic program of the European Union as well. As indicated by l’Humanité, about 65% of the people support the strikes and protests against it.

    Traditionally strikes and protests tend to be one day affaires. The unions and their supporters will have to continue these actions every day indefinitely in order to stop Macron’s plan because the constitution of the Fifth Republic makes it just about impossible for Parliament to block the decisions of the president.

    If the protests and strikes continue for a certain amount of time there is a good chance that Macron will be forced to abandon his regressive changes to the retirement system. That would be wonderful. It is what the country needs.

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