French unions do not give up the battle for pensions

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French unions rule out that the battle against pension reform is lost, despite the adoption of the unpopular bill last night in the Senate, and warned against the “deafness” of the government in the face of the growing “anger” of the world of work.

“The match is not over,” Laurent Berger, secretary general of the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), said in an interview on BFMTV.

Berger, one of the union leaders who leads the movement against pension reform (although the CFDT did support on other occasions reforms deemed necessary), recalled that Wednesday will be a new national day of protests, coinciding with the discussion of the text in a joint joint committee of Parliament.

That day “it will take” a strong mobilization, said Berger, to once again demonstrate the power of social rejection of the reform.

“I always appeal to reason (…) I think parliamentarians have a responsibility, when you are elected parliamentarian you have to represent the people,” he said.

The leader of the CFDT argued that France is in a “democratic impasse” with three pillars: a large social movement of rejection, a parliamentary process “hidden” (in reference to the mechanisms used by the Government to accelerate the debates) and a “refusal” of the Executive of Emmanuel Macron to listen.

“Yesterday we felt more anger,” Berger warned, referring to the demonstrations that took to the streets for the seventh time on Saturday and that, although they were less massive than the previous ones, continue to represent the most important social protest movement “of the last fifty years,” according to the unions.

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Although avoiding leaving his usual moderate tone, the union leader considered “dangerous” a scenario in which the Government, if it does not find sufficient parliamentary support to approve the reform in the National Assembly, resorts to constitutional article 49.3 that allows it to approve the project without a vote, in exchange for exposing itself to a motion of censure.

With the support of 195 senators and 112 votes against, the French Senate approved late on Saturday the controversial pension reform project, with an accelerated debate thanks to a procedure activated by the Executive to dodge numerous amendments filed by the opposition to hinder the process.

The text will be discussed again on the 15th in a joint joint commission to agree on a common version that must then be validated, as of March 16, by both chambers.

In the National Assembly – which previously failed to vote on the full bill on first reading – the vote is expected to be very close despite the support of conservative Republicans.

It is on this key procedure that the shadow of article 49.3 plans, already used in this legislature on other occasions by the Government, since the Macronist bloc does not have an absolute majority since the legislative elections of 2022.

The main axis of the reform promoted by Macron is to delay the minimum retirement age by two years, from the current 62 years to 64.

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