The French pension reform initiated by Emmanuel Macron has sparked an anti-government protest across the nation.
On Monday, President Macron’s government narrowly escaped the no-confidence motion with 278 votes in favour, falling short of 287 votes. The vote was tabled by the centrist MPs and if it would have been successful, the president would have had to call new elections or go for a new government.
After the failure of first vote, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party tabled a second no-confidence motion, which also failed.
As of now since both no confidence votes have failed, the controversial bill to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 will become law.
Macron used Article 49.3–which gives special constitutional powers—to push his idea to raise the retirement age through the lower house of parliament.
Even though the France has one of the lowest retirement ages compared to other countries in respect to industrialised world, the French people are not very happy with the government’s decision. It has angered workers across all public sectors as labour unions have been protesting against the reform since beginning of the year.
French refineries are rolling strikes for 13 days; garbage workers too skipped their duties while transport workers and teachers have also held strikes.
Now, students have also joined protests, stating that the reform concerns them as well. According to AFP report, hundreds of students have joined the protest demonstrations, against the pension reforms. The news agency quoted one of the university students, who said, “People think this subject does not concern us but in fact it does. If our grandparents will now have to work longer, we know that things will get worse.”
The whole idea of pension reform has scared the French workers as they feel that the increase in retirement age would lead to reduction of pension payments to beneficiaries. The common public also fears of a negative impact of the pension reform on the low-income workers in physically demanding jobs and also a decline in living standards for retirees.
But the Macron’s government sees the current pension system on the blink of bankruptcy as according to government’s estimate if changes are not done the “pension system will record an annual deficit of €13.5 billion (Rs 1.2 lakh crore) by 2030”.
During an interview with France’s Inter, Budget Minister Gabriel Attal said, “If we don’t do [the reforms] today, we will have to do much more brutal measures in the future”.