France Unveils Pension Reforms, Setting Up Part 2 in Battle With Unions

Friday, 24 January 2020 19:45 WIB



After weeks of crippling transportation strikes, France’s government will formally unveil controversial pension reform legislation Friday.

Which will test its ability to overcome powerful union dissent and overhaul an indebted retirement system that is one of Europe’s most generous.

The pension reforms arguably are the most central and problematic of President Emmanuel Macron’s broader campaign promises to make the country more economically sustainable and business friendly. But it remains unclear whether he will succeed where previous governments have failed — and angry voters may sanction the 42-year-old leader and his young Republic on the Move party in upcoming elections.  

“The government thought it would have the reforms without a problem. That’s not what happened,” said Jean Grosset, director of the Observatory of Social Dialogue at Paris, the research group at the Jean Jaures Foundation. He predicts the government’s success in pushing through meaningful reforms will come at a cost.

But sociologist Guy Groux said the government had emerged as the clear winner in a standoff that ultimately split unions and mobilized only a small fraction of the workforce.  

“I think this is the beginning of the end” of the strikes, Groux said, adding the government “has come out very well” despite some concessions.

Hardline syndicates plan to counter the draft bill with a "black Friday" marked by massive street protests and metro shutdowns, echoing some of the worst days of a transportation strike that began in early December and is the longest in the country’s history.  

“Friday is the day or never,” said Philippe Martinez, head of the hardline General Confederation of Labor, or CGT union, which wants the legislation scrapped.

Source : VOA


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