“Mass Strike in France: Over 1 Million Workers Protest Macron’s Pension Reforms”
On Tuesday, more than one million workers across France took to the streets in protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed pension reforms. The reforms, an important part of Macron’s reelection campaign, would raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and require people to work for 43 years to receive their full pension. This mass strike, the largest in France since the 1968 general strike, is a symbol of the confrontation between the working class and the Macron government.
The French government has put forward a case for raising the minimum retirement age, similar to that made in other countries such as Britain, where the threshold is being raised to 67. It argues that an aging population and increased longevity is making the current system financially unsustainable.
The French government has also announced that the amount of time unemployed workers can claim full benefits could be reduced by a quarter, in order to encourage people back to work. In addition, a penalty is applied to the amount received for each missed quarter of contribution, meaning workers must contribute for 43 years to receive their full pension.
Tuesday’s protests saw the cancellation of planes, trains, and buses, school closures, and blockades of important infrastructure such as oil refineries. The demonstration is a sign of the strength of feeling against the pension reforms and the deep-rooted opposition to Macron’s policies more generally. With more demonstrations planned, it remains to be seen whether Macron will back down in the face of such strong opposition.
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