As we wrote in previous articles, the strikes in France are continuing and the situation is getting more and more tense. The trade unions coordination has announced the tenth 24h general strike for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 28.
The Macron government triggered Article 49.3 of the constitution to pass the retirement reform with no parliamentary vote on March 16. According to Article 49.3, if the government succeeds in surviving a confidence vote, the bills are passed without the need to be voted on. In the face of the growing workers’ movement, the Macron bourgeois government continues to show no sign of respect to labor rights or even public opinion. In an interview on Wednesday, Macron explicitly refused to negotiate on the retirement bill and said that the working class reform bill is his “historical responsibility”.
On Friday March 24, after the ninth 24h general strike the day before, Macron’s negotiations with unions ended up with no concession or step back. Macron refused to revisit the retirement reform bill.
If the government continues to arrogantly insist and defend this bill, despite the impressive resistance of the workers’ movement, it will be another sign that President Macron is very slightly different from king Louis XVI, out of touch with reality.
The cannibalistic retirement reform bill
A French worker can receive a pension of 85% of their last salary, at the age of 62, while some vulnerable workers’ groups or professions with specific difficulties were able to retire at younger age. For international standards, this is quite low, but at the same time we should note that French workers have achieved this after long and continuous struggles against their bosses and the state. Moreover, labour productivity in France is very high, as the country ranks 9th in the world.
Now, with the new reform, the French government wants to extend the “statutory retirement age” to the age of 64. We should also mention the fact that the level of pensions is being eated away by inflation, creating pressure to pensioners, and this is another reason fuelling the movement.
For example, railroad workers originally had a statutory retirement age of 55, but with the implementation of the Macron Reform Act, they will have to work an additional ten years before retiring and receive the same pension as workers with a higher average life expectancy. This was presented a “fair” treatment to white collar workers, but it is a further rise in the exploitation of the physical workforce.
The movement is still at a high level, and the anger against the Macron reform bill continues to build. The resistance of workers is becoming more and more intense. Workers around the world should unite in solidarity with this important struggle and support the strike movement of French workers!