French government pushes through pension reform plan despite protests

Opposition lawmakers in France’s National Assembly jeered and jeered after Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne announced she was pushing ahead with controversial pension reforms as it appeared clear the government would win the planned vote. Not supported.

Deputies began singing France’s national anthem, the Marseillaise, in an attempt to drown him out as he criticized what he described as deliberate stalling tactics by some deputies during the debate.

“We cannot gamble on the future of our pensions, these reforms are necessary,” Bourne told lawmakers, explaining why she is seeking special constitutional powers to pass the bill, when it is clear It turned out that the lower house would not agree to it. Noon deadline

Within minutes, an angry mob had gathered on the Place de la Concorde, across the river, to condemn the move. French unions demanded. More protests He promised to intensify the strikes across the country and across the country.

Protesters march against pension reform plan in Paris
A protester waves the flag of the SUD trade union during a demonstration on the Place de la Concorde in Paris after the French government pushed a pension reform plan through parliament without a vote on March 16, 2023.

Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

Unions and opposition lawmakers were angry that, after weeks of debate in the National Assembly and then the Senate, the government chose to force the reforms through the exercise of special powers under Article 49:3 of the Constitution. And it’s a blow to President Emmanuel Macron, who promised to reform France’s complicated pension system when he ran for election and then re-election.

Weeks of preliminary debate in the House of Commons, during which thousands of amendments were tabled, ended without agreement. After several amendments to the bill, the Senate voted in favor of the reform on Saturday, March 11, then again this morning on final reading.

This is not the first time that President Macron’s minority government has used Article 49:3 when it looked like it would not have the support it needed to pass a bill.

The far-right National Rally party pledged to immediately launch a motion of no confidence in Macron’s government. Now this is the only way to stop the reforms. The far-right previously lost another no-confidence vote but can hope to topple the government if they can win broad support among the opposition.

The far-left has also threatened to launch a no-confidence motion but it remains to be seen whether they will be ready to get behind a joint motion.

Protests in Paris against the French government's plan to raise the legal retirement age
Protesters march in a demonstration against the French government’s plan to raise the retirement age on March 16, 2023 in Paris.

Ferris Abdullah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

However, the conservative Les Republicans party quickly said it would neither bring nor vote for a motion of no confidence in the government. The way the reforms were carried out was a “failure of many years of politics” and showed, “a deep crisis in our institutions”, said party president Eric Ceuti.

He said, “The government ruined the reform that I repeat, I thought was necessary. … A vote was possible.

Unless the no-confidence motion wins, the reforms will now take effect later this year. One of the key points of the reforms is the change in retirement age from 62 to 64 years, which will be implemented gradually over the next 4 years.

The new law will also increase the number of years it takes to retire on a full pension, meaning many who started working in their mid-twenties, or mothers who took time off work to raise children. If the time was taken, they will have to work till the age of 67. They can get full pension.

The controversial reforms have sparked nationwide protests and strikes since January, causing transport chaos in the days leading up to the move. Blockades continue at France’s oil refineries, some train services have been cut, and garbage has been piling up in Paris and other cities since last week, when garbage collectors went on strike. They have voted to continue their movement until at least March 20.

Garbage piled up in Paris after the strike.
Garbage bins are filled with garbage on the streets during a pickets’ strike in Paris on March 16, 2023. Garbage pickers have joined massive strikes across France against pension reform plans.

Mustafa Yalsan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

More than 7,000 tons of garbage litter the streets of the French capital. Rats are pouring out of the sewers in their thousands, attracted by the sudden availability of easy pickings. Adding to the problem, the strikers have shut down three of the city’s waste treatment plants.

Socialist Mayor Ann Hidalgo rejected requests by the interior minister and Paris police chief for workers to clean up the trash. However, the police chief has now said he may go over his head and order some of them back to work – although since they are city employees, it may not happen immediately. .

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