Opponents of pension reform in France they are not deterred by its final adoption in April, after a months-long wave of protests, and call again for today’s 14th day of mobilizations against the law that postpones the retirement age to 64 years.
The 14th day of protests since the beginning of the year it may be the swan song of an unprecedented mass protest movement marked by mass strikes and demonstrations that have failed to shake the resolve of the Macron government.
THE French government used all available constitutional means – including the article allowing a bill to be passed without a vote in Parliament – to impose the reform, which came into effect on April 14 after being ratified by the Constitutional Court.
The bra-de-fer between the government and the opponents of the reform left deep scars. The new day of mobilizations is taking place in a tense atmosphere, despite the fact that President Macron is seeking to regain the initiative by introducing new topics on the agenda.
French unions are organizing 250 demonstrations and rallies across France and Frédéric Souillot, general secretary of the FO union, appears optimistic. “There will be people on the street,” he assured speaking to the France 2 network this morning, betting on the participation of a million people, while the authorities predict a mobilization of 400,000-600,000 people.
“It won’t be the biggest mobilization either,” Celine Verzeletti admits, secretary of the CGT confederation. “There will be a small number of strikes”, in any case in Education, admits Benoit Test of the Fédération Syndicale Unitaire, a trade union in the education sector who speaks of “the end of a cycle”.
Strikes have been called at electricity and natural gas companies, as well as rail and air transport.
This morning, some bus services in the city of Rennes have been disrupted due to the blockade of a train station by protesters.
About 11,000 police and gendarmes are on foot, 4,000 in Paris. Authorities expect participation in the protests by members of the far left from abroad, according to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanen, who will come to join the ranks of the rioters who are wreaking havoc and clashing with the forces of order.
“We expect riots and black blocs and we will break them up,” said Paris police chief Laurent Nunies.
The “last battle”
The day of mobilizations is organized two days before the debate in the Parliament of a proposed law that aims to abolish the reform and does not have much chance of passing.
A parliamentary committee removed from the proposed law the key article referring to the reform’s retirement age limit and, although amendments were added to restore the article and the substance of the proposed law, the speaker of the French National Assembly, Yael Brown-Pivet, has warned that it will declare them inadmissible by invoking a constitutional provision that prohibits MPs from tabling amendments that reduce public resources or increase public expenditure.
“It will be a clear scandal of democracy”warned the general secretary of the CGT Sophie Binet.
The general secretary of the CFDT trade union, Laurent Berget, denounced for his part a “democratic flaw” recalling that the reform was never put to a vote. However, he appears to have conceded defeat to the French unions by stating that “of course (…) the text will be implemented when the time comes”.
CFTC chairman Cyril Champanier said in mid-March that June 8 would likely be “the last battle”.
The French government is trying to turn the page and already on Sunday the first two circulars were published in the Government Gazette for the implementation of the reform of the pension system and in particular the progressive increase of the age limit.
Source: News Beast
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