Raising French retirement age to 64 is ‘non-negotiable’, says PM Borne as strikes loom

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The French prime minister on Sunday rejected a plan to raise the retirement age as unions prepare for another day of mass protests against controversial reforms.

Raising the minimum retirement age to 64 from 62 now is part of a top reform package pushed by the President Emmanuel Macron to secure the future financing of the French pension system.

Afterward unions opposed the change took more than a million people to the streets on January 19, the government signaled that there was still room for some measure.

These include special incentives for those who start working at a very young age, and provisions for mothers who have to take a break from their careers to care for their children and for those who invest in education. Advanced.

But the title age limit of 64 is not discussed, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne Sunday said.

“This is currently non-negotiable,” she told FranceInfo broadcaster.

While unions welcomed the government’s willingness to negotiate parts of the plan, they said the proposed 64-year rule must be implemented.

Calling the reform “unfair” France’s eight major unions, in a rare unity, said they hoped to “mobilize even more massively” on Tuesday, the day of scheduled protests. their next, compared with the protests on January 19.

On that occasion, the government put a figure of 1.1 million voters; unions said more than two million.

‘Even more people’

“It looks like there will be more,” said Celine Verzeletti, a member of the leadership of the hard-left union’s CGT coalition.

Pointing to opinion polls, Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT union, said that “people strongly disagree with the project and that view is well founded”.

He warned it would be “a mistake” if the government ignored the mobilization.

communist party leader Fabien Roussel called Borne’s remarks “a provocation”, saying the prime minister “blinked” and her government was “inflexible”.

Marine Le Penleader of the far-right National Rally, echoing her opposition to the government’s “unjust and brutal” plans.

Unions and the government both see Tuesday’s protests as a major test.

About 200 protests are being held nationwide, with a large march planned for Parisculminating in a rally outside Parliament where parliamentary committees will begin considering the bill on Monday.

The leftist opposition has submitted more than 7,000 amendments to the bill aimed at slowing its passage through parliament.

Macron’s allies, who do not have an absolute majority in parliament, will need votes from conservatives to get their pension plan through.

The government has the option to force passage of the bill without a vote under special constitutional rights, but that risks leading to a vote of no confidence and possibly parliamentary elections. new.

On Sunday evening, Borne held a meeting with several ministers and senior government officials to discuss how to proceed.

call strike

In addition to protest marches, unions called for widespread strike action on Tuesday, with rail and public transport services expected to be hit hard.

Schools and administrative offices are also expected to close, with some local governments having announced the closure of public spaces such as sports stadiums.

For those using public transport, Tuesday will be “difficult, or even very difficult”, Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday, urging passengers to postpone their flights. travel and work from home when possible.

Several unions called for further strike action in February, including at commercial ports, refineries and power plants.

Observers say unions are betting high, and any support dwindling on Tuesday could be fatal to their momentum.

“They set the bar too high,” said Dominique Andolfatto, professor of political science. “They can’t accept any mistakes.”



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