The battle begins. The day after the presentation of the pension reform, the unions are preparing to mobilize from January 19, in a united front against the postponement of the legal age to 64 years. After three months of procrastination and consultation, the government has delivered its verdict and confirmed the expected increase in the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030. Less than the 65 years promised by Emmanuel Macron before his re-election. But enough to “guarantee the balance” of the budget at the end of the decade, while financing “measures of justice”, assured Elisabeth Borne.
The Prime Minister defended “advances” on the employment of seniors, “long careers” and the consideration of hardship. But above all a revaluation of small pensions, soon to be increased to 1,200 euros gross (before deduction of the CSG) per month for a full career. The measure will affect not only future retirees, but also nearly two million current retirees. Enough to satisfy the right, key to adopting the reform in Parliament. The president of the Republicans, Eric Ciotti, was also pleased to see the “important demands” of his camp taken up.
But the LR group in the Assembly has a “red line” on “long careers”. It requires that a person who begins to contribute at age 20 “be able to leave when they have reached all of their annuities (43 years from 2027, editor’s note), that is to say not at 64 but at 63 “, underlined Wednesday on RFI its spokesperson, Pierre-Henri Dumont.
General satisfaction of employers
General satisfaction of the employers also: the Medef welcomed the “pragmatic and responsible decisions” of the executive. While reaffirming its hostility to the index measuring the employment of seniors in companies with more than 300 employees, accompanied by a financial penalty in the event of refusal to publish.
Unsurprisingly, the reception is diametrically opposed on the side of the unions, who denounced with one voice a “brutal” reform and called for “a first day of strikes and demonstrations” on January 19. A date supposed to “give the start of a powerful mobilization in the long term”, wished the leader of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, who denounced Thursday on France Inter “a reform of financial balance on the sole back of the workers”.
All the left-wing parties have already rallied to this day, including the Insoumis, which are also planning a “march for pensions” on January 21 in Paris.
Risky confrontation in the Assembly
The compensation measures of the reform seem to them very insufficient in the face of a “serious social regression”, in the words of the leader LFI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. “It is not because you had a bitter pill surrounded by honey that the spoon is pleasant”, summarized on franceinfo the leader of the PS deputies in the Assembly, Boris Vallaud.
The confrontation will therefore begin just before the presentation of the bill in the Council of Ministers, on January 23. The government has chosen – a rare occurrence – to go through an amending budget for Social Security, thus imposing a forced review of the text with a view to final adoption at the end of March, while allowing itself the possibility of resorting to 49.3 in the event of a deadlock in the Assembly. The risk could come from both sides of the hemicycle. On the far right, the leader of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, has sworn to “block” an “unfair” reform. On the left, France Insoumise poses the threat of a deluge of amendments.
The government wishes to have its reform adopted without going through article 49.3 of the Constitution, assured this Wednesday its spokesman Olivier Véran, confident in the possibility of having an “absolute majority” thanks to the reinforcement of the Republicans. “I obviously remain cautious, I’m not going to speak on behalf of opposition groups, but if I listen to what the Republicans are saying and the reactions to the Prime Minister’s presentation of the project, it seems that we are not far from having a favorable vote under conditions”, explained on Franceinfo the Minister Delegate for Democratic Renewal.
“People in the demonstrations and people on strike”
But “it will not only happen in the Assembly”, warned the number one of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, hoping “from the world in the demonstrations and from the world on strike”. Certain crucial sectors will be particularly scrutinized, in the first place transport and energy, where the scheduled extinction of the special regimes of the RATP and EDF could cause a stir. The number of participants on the day of the 19th will be decisive for the rest of the movement.
Can the mobilization of the unions bend the executive? “I tell them (…), and they know it, that this reform is necessary if we want to save the pay-as-you-go system”, replied the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, on RTL. “We want to go all the way because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be balancing our pension system,” said spokesperson Olivier Véran, while ensuring “that we fully understand that a pension reform ( …) can mobilize the French or in any case not please or worry”. Still, according to him, the government “does not project itself into the idea of a massive mobilization” in the face of its pension reform project.
“We are not projecting ourselves there in the idea of a massive mobilization or the impact of this mobilization”, he declared during the report of the Council of Ministers. “We have come out of the consultation phase and we are entering the phase of explanation, information, discussion with the French to explain, re-explain why it is fundamental that we carry out this pension reform”, a he developed.
Pension reform is “indispensable and vital”, Macron tells his ministers
Emmanuel Macron insisted on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers on the “indispensable and vital” nature of the pension reform to “preserve” the system, reported government spokesman Olivier Véran. The Head of State “insisted on all the social advances” and called on the ministers to “mobilize” to “explain to the French very concretely” what “is going to change for them”. “This reform, which we are carrying out, which we will carry out, must make it possible to guarantee that everyone will benefit from the same pension system as their parents and grandparents”, noted the minister, worried to note that “a certain number of French people no longer believe in the beautiful idea of distribution”.