The French Senate, dominated by the right, approved on Wednesday night after an intense battle with the left the key article of a pension reform bill that raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 years. The vote ended with 201 votes in favor and 115 against.
Under the government plan, the legal retirement age will be raised progressively from 62 to 64 at the rate of three months per year from September 1, 2023 until 2030.
In addition, to obtain a full pension, without discount, the required contribution period will increase from 42 to 43 years by 2027, at a rate of one quarter per year.
France has experienced large protest mobilizations against the pension reform promoted by the liberal president Emmanuel Macron.
To enter into force, the initiative must still be agreed by the two chambers of Parliament, for which they have a deadline of March 26.
In case of not reaching it, the government can apply its plan through an ordinance, something that has never happened.
The French trade unions yesterday achieved the greater mobilization in the demonstrations since the protests against the pension reform began in January, but the strikes did not achieve the paralysis of the country with which they hoped to force the Government of Emmanuel Macron to go back.
A total of 3.5 million of people demonstrated in the more than 200 concentrations summoned throughout the country, according to the CGT union, while the Ministry of the Interior calculated 1.28 million.
All the surveys of the last months show a very majority rejection to the reform (68%, according to an Ifop poll published on Sunday) and support for the unions in their plans to continue the strikes beyond Tuesday (56%, according to another Elabe poll made public on Monday).
However, the Government remained firm, arguing that if there is no reform the system will have an annual deficit of 12,500 million euros in 2030.
“It has been a historic day, due to the extent of the strikes and the mobilization,” said the main unions in a joint statement in which they insisted that “the Government must withdraw its project.”
The unions called a new massive demonstration for the next Saturdayand warned that the lack of response from the Executive “inevitably leads to a situation that could become explosive.”
On January 31, the last day of protests, there were 1.27 million protesters across the country (according to the police) and 2.8 million (according to the CGT), for what today could be the largest mobilization in 40 years.
The marches took place normally, although as usual some very minority groups of radicals caused property damage and staged clashes with the police, particularly in Paris, where there were 43 detainees at the beginning of the night.
The Paris Police Prefect, Laurent Nuñez, attributed the clashes and destruction to “extremely radicalized individuals”, according to what he said in statements to the channel bfm
The percentages of strikers were below some of the five previous days of protests, the first on January 19.
In the State Administration, close to a quarter of the workforce continued the strike, compared to 28% on January 19; and in the state energy giant EDF they were 41.5% compared to 44.5% that same January 19.
In education, the Ministry of Education indicated that it had unemployed 32.71% of primary and secondary teachers.
Beyond these percentages, the truth is that very few railways circulated (an average of 20% of high-speed trains) and that the strikes by air traffic controllers forced the cancellation of 20% of the flights on the Charles de Gaulle and a 30% at the other Paris airport, Orly, as well as at Beauvais, Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Marseille, Montpellier, Nice and Toulouse.
In addition, in various logistics centers and important communication hubs there were truckers who obstructed traffic and created traffic jams on the access roads to Lille, Perpignan, Rennes, Saint Brieuc or Cannes.
Although the refineries are still running, since they cannot be shut down, production has been reduced in some. But the blockades in the depots prevented trucks with fuel from leaving. Even so, the gas stations are not going to have supply problems, at least in the short and medium term.
Three of the four regasification units (two in Fos sur Mer, near Marseille, and the other in Montoir de Bretagne, near the port of Saint Nazaire) remained idle, thus preventing the entry of the liquefied gas that France imports by ship.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
France lives a day of massive protests against the pension reform with blockades and delays in transport
The French government said that the increase in the minimum retirement age is non-negotiable