Schools closed, trains canceled and a drop in electricity production mark this Tuesday a new day of protests against the pension reform of the liberal president Emmanuel Macron, who, after losing the battle of opinion, hopes to win the support of Parliament.
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“There is a lot of anger against this reform,” said a security guard in Marseille (south), who requested anonymity. “Working 64 or older is very hard, especially in our trades,” he added.
Almost two weeks after taking to the streets 1.12 million people, according to the authorities -double, for the unions-, opponents expect many more protesters in France, where the rejection of the current reform progresses in public opinion.
“If the Prime Minister (Élisabeth Borne) did not understand the message, today we will tell her louder, stronger and more numerous,” the leader of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union, Philippe Martinez, told BFMTV and RMC media.
We are living a historic day. Macron is sure to lose
The two measures that crystallize the rejection of the reform are the progressive delay until 2030 of the retirement age from 62 to 64 years and the advancement to 2027 of the requirement to contribute 43 years -and not 42 as now- to collect a full pension .
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Although the government called for the opposition to “enrich” its project during the parliamentary process that began on Monday, Borne said the age of 64 was “no longer negotiable”, angering the opposition from left who called for a “popular vote of no confidence” in the streets.
“We are living a historic day. Mr. Macron is sure to lose,” said leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, at the start of the demonstration in Marseille, where he called for the reform to be submitted to a “referendum” of the citizens.
“The Prime Minister cannot continue to turn a deaf ear to this formidable mobilization that has been created (…): ‘Listen to this discontent that is being expressed everywhere,'” Laurent Berger, leader of the CFDT union, urged on Monday.
Protests in the different labor sectors
About 250 demonstrations in Paris, starting at 2:00 pm local time, are called.
The government mobilized 11,000 police and gendarmes. Intelligence services expect a total of 1.2 million protesters at the most.
The day started with a very well-respected strike in transportparticularly in the Paris metro, commuter trains in the region and provincial railways, where the frequency was very low.
The Prime Minister cannot continue turning a deaf ear to this formidable mobilization that has been created
In compulsory education, unemployment was lower than 12 days ago: 25% of teachers according to the government, double for the unions.
The strike in the energy sector caused a drop in production in nuclear power plants of “almost 3,000 MWh”, according to the EDF company.
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Between 75% and 100% of the personnel at TotalEnergies refineries and warehouses joined the strike, according to the CGT.
The new day of protest could increase tension in the National Assembly (lower house), that the commission examination of the reform began the day before and that he has less than a week to debate the 7,000 amendments tabled before he reaches plenary on Monday.
With the rejection of the left-wing Nupes front and the extreme right already announced, the government expects the support of the right-wing party Los Republicanos (LR), favorable to a reform but divided on its characteristics.
Majority rejection against President Macron
Since his arrival in government in 2017, Macron, 45, has defended his desire to “shake up” the system with his liberal-style reforms, which have sometimes boosted his image as the “president of the rich”, such as during the social protest. of the yellow vests.
The pension reform is key to his strategy.
After the pandemic forced it to withdraw a first attempt, the government chose a controversial parliamentary procedure that allows it to apply the current plan if Parliament does not rule by the end of March.
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Rejection of the reform is currently around 70%, according to polls. Furthermore, according to an Odoxa survey, two out of three French people consider Macron a bad president and Borne a bad prime minister.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) came to the rescue of this former business banker on Monday, expressing its support for a reform, which together with the one approved on unemployment insurance, would allow France to reduce its public debt, located above 110 % of GDP.
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