Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Mass Mobilizations in France Against Macron’s Pension Reform

This Wednesday, the French government unveiled the details of its proposed pension reform. Tuesday marked the second day of mass mobilization, while an ongoing general strike had already paralyzed the country for six days.

Facebook Twitter Share
Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP

On Wednesday, December 11, the French government unveiled the details of its proposed pension reform plan. On Tuesday, the second day of mass mobilizations took to the streets, while the ongoing general strike reached its sixth day, continuing to grind transportation across France to a halt.

Though the turnout fell from the first demonstrations held last Thursday, they still retained their force with broad participation from teachers, students, and trade unionists. The General Confederation of Workers (CGT) estimated that there were 885,000 participants, compared to the 1.5 million they had calculated after the first march.

Union leaders have been careful not to call for an unlimited general strike. They have left the responsibility and choice of renewal to the workers on a case-by-case and local basis, leaving themselves room to negotiate with the government. Even at their most combative, union leaders have continued consulting with the government in talks that have been going on for months, even while the workers reject the reform as a whole. The CGT has taken the position of rejecting the current reform plan while supporting the idea of another reform. However, no truly progressive reform will be achievable without directly confronting Macron and his neoliberalism. 

Before the demonstration, the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, made a statement: “I hope Macron will listen to the social anger that is manifesting even more forcefully these days, but that we have been seeing for months. Let him withdraw his project and let us seriously discuss the necessary improvement of the reform system, which is one of the best in the world.” 

On the eve of Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s presentation of the entire reform, Martinez said that there is a problem of “financing” in the current pension system but demanded that any new adjustments be “supportive” and that they be fixed by creating more work, raising the contribution paid by employers, and raising salaries.

“What we want is for the government to completely withdraw this reform and then we’ll talk,” added the trade unionist. He announced that, on Tuesday night, they would decide in an inter-union meeting how the movement will continue.

In the capital, the government once again responded to the workers with repression. Security forces blocked much of the southern area of the city, from the Garden of the Invalids to Denfert-Rocheareau Square, where the march took place. Meanwhile the city remains virtually paralyzed by the continued strike of public transport workers with only 6 of the 16 metro lines in operation.

The striking workers have raised slogans against precariousness. Students and professors have also taken up these slogans, forcefully rejecting the reform and declaring it “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Charlene Dupont, a professor at the University of Paris-East Creteil, told Efe: “We have the feeling that we are being drowned more and more every day. This goes beyond retirement, it is a cry against the worsening of public services, working conditions, overcrowded classes, and students overwhelmed by precariousness.” 

Aspects of the General Strike Against Macron

At the national level, with three quarters of the conductors on strike, the national railway company SNCF is running only 20% of its long and mid-distance trains. Only one in five trains will work while the lines with Spain and Italy will remain cut. Railway difficulties are anticipated at least through the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Air France has cancelled more than 30% of its flights and EasyJet up to 92%, after the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGAC) requested a reduction of flight schedules by 20%.

Faced by these challenges, the government has thus far maintained its resolve. PM Philippe has confirmed, “We intend to build a universal regime, by distribution and by points. This is what the president committed himself to and this is what we are going to do.” He added that there will be no “magic announcements.”

Before Tuesday’s mobilization, the Executive had previously only advanced that there will be a unification of the 42 pension systems and that the calculation of pensions will be done through a points system. With this supposed “simplification,” Macron’s government is attempting to obscure its true goal: an end to “special regimes” that are in fact conquests of the workers and that support those who work in unhealthy conditions. There are special regimes for the public railway company (SNCF) and for public transport in the Paris region (RATP), both of which comprise the hard core of the mobilizations.

Last Thursday’s historic day of strikes and mobilizations showed the enormous strength of the working class when it struggles together. The decrease in the participation of the second day does not indicate a waning will but rather attests to the union leaderships’ attempts to contain the movement. They prefer instead to remain with Macron at the negotiation table. In order to definitively stop all attempts at reform, the workers must overcome their current leaderships and take the struggle into their own hands.

Facebook Twitter Share

La Izquierda Diario Argentina

Our Argentinian sister site, part of the international network of La Izquierda Diario

Europe

Striking airline workers in uniforms and yellow vests at Munich’s airport on July 27.

Lufthansa Strike in Germany Brings Air Traffic to a Standstill

A one-day warning strike at German airports has demonstrated the power of the workers. Now it’s time to extend the struggle.

Marco Helmbrecht

July 28, 2022
Several Lufthansa airplanes on the tarmac in Munich, Germany in March 2020.

Lufthansa Workers Strike over Wages

Today, ground workers for the German airline Lufthansa are striking for wage increases and better working conditions. On Tuesday, a similar strike took place at the airport in Lyon, France.

The Mediterranean Sea Hits 86ºF — 10ºF Higher than Expected

Massive evaporation, torrential rains, prolonged extreme humid heat, and dying marine life — these are among the consequences of this summer’s heat wave as the waters of the Mediterranean Sea reach record levels.

Pedro Vantas

July 27, 2022
A firefighter in Gironde, France, stands in front of a raging wildfire.

Climate Crisis in Europe: Here We Tread upon a Spark

Europe has been struck with a deadly heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F). We need a radical ecological transition out of this catastrophe.

Antoine Ramboz

July 22, 2022

MOST RECENT

Several Fordham adjuncts standing with their fists in the air.

Fordham University Hates Adjuncts

Fordham University remains committed to paying adjunct faculty far less than a living wage, depriving them of health benefits, and discriminating against faculty in the Graduate School of Social Services.

Olivia Wood

August 8, 2022

Gaza and Al-Aqsa Under Attack in Latest Zionist Israeli Military Onslaught

Over the weekend, the Gaza Strip was attacked by Zionist Israeli military forces and Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed by ultra-nationalists. We need international solidarity in the streets for Palestine, demanding that not a penny more of imperialist governments’ money go to Israel.

Emma Lee

August 8, 2022
A slightly blurry photo of a crowd of people all raising their fists.

Subalterns, Postcolonialists, and the Specter of Capital: A Polemic from Marxism

The theories of the “postcolonialists” condemn us to the mere repetition of local resistance with no way out of the brutal plundering of people by imperialism, multiple repressions, and exploitation. The socialist strategy is a tool to eradicate the society based on this brutality.

NYPD Violently Arrest 5 Abortion Rights Activists at a Clinic Defense

On Saturday, five people were violently arrested protecting abortion access in NYC, while NYPD protected anti-choicers attempting to harass patients.

Molly Rosenzweig

August 6, 2022