After the massive strike in France on Thursday, January 19, trade unions and left parties are set to the intensify the struggle against the controversial pension reforms proposed by the Emmanuel Macron government. According to organizers of the Thursdays’ mobilizations—jointly called for by all major trade unions in the county, including the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), French Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT), Workers’ Force (FO), Solidaires, and others—around two million people participated. Activists from political parties and youth groups affiliated to the Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale (NUPES) coalition also participated in the rallies held across France.
Massive mobilizations took place in Marseille, Nantes, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Rennes, Caen, Rouen, Nevers, Lons-Le-Saunier, Orléans, Laval, Clermont, Rodez, Vierzon, Nancy, Limoges, Montpellier, Amiens, Brest, Paris, and other cities across the country. According to reports, 400,000 people marched in Paris alone. The protesters have given the neoliberal government an ultimatum to withdraw the bill, which calls for an increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64. They have also demanded that the retirement age be reduced to 60 and that wages be increased to combat inflation and the cost of living crisis.
The government’s plans to increase the retirement age, announced by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on January 10, sparked widespread protests from the working class in France. It was also proposed that workers will need to have worked for at least 43 years to get a full pension, starting from 2027. Macron’s first attempt to change the pension system, during the first term of his presidency, was met with protests and postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
On January 18, the General Confederation of Labor stated that “the government wants to force through a brutal and unfair reform to reduce the pension deficit, which would amount to 12 billion euros (USD 12.97 billion) in 2027, 13.5 billion (USD 14.59 billion) by 2030, according to forecasts by the Pensions Orientation Council (COR).”
“The pension system is not in danger. To finance better pensions and retirement at age 60, solutions exist. By increasing wages, by creating jobs, by using dividends, by ensuring equal pay, by moving to the 32-hour week. The government refuses to debate it,” added the CGT.
On January 19, the French Communist Party (PCF) said, “Emmanuel Macron challenged the country. The response from the French is powerful and clear: ‘We don’t want this pension reform!’ Employees do not need more education, they have understood the harmfulness and inefficiency of this reform.”
PCF has also called on the President of the Republic to “withdraw his project now or submit it to a referendum.”
Trade unions, youth groups, and leftist parties have called for more actions on January 21, 23, and 31.
Working class sections across Europe, including the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) in Greece, Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA), Communist Youth Front (FGC) in Italy, among others, have all expressed solidarity with the workers’ protest in France.