Despite Protests Ahead, France Won't Budge on Retirement Age

Prime minister calls change to 64 'nonnegotiable'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2023 1:05 PM CST
Despite Protests Ahead, France Won't Budge on Retirement Age
Firefighters demonstrate against pension changes on Jan. 19 in Lille, northern France.   (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

After more than a million people poured into the streets earlier this month to protest President Emmanuel Macron's planned changes to France's pension system, government officials suggested there might be room for compromise. On Sunday, they made clear that doesn't include a reconsideration of raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. "This is now nonnegotiable," Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview, France 24 reports. The country's major unions are equally insistent that France stick with 62 and plan a day of protest on Tuesday that they expect to be bigger than the one on Jan. 19. Organizers say 200 demonstrations are planned around the country.

Work stoppages are included in the plan, affecting rail lines, schools, and public transportation. Last time, one union shut off the power to the office of a Macron ally for more than three hours, per the Wall Street Journal, while manipulating gas meters to provide discounts to bakers in Marseille who were protesting. The CGT union said it will do more of the same this week. The pension plan comes up for review starting Monday in the National Assembly, and unions and the government consider the protest day an important test of support.

The possible changes the government has indicated are up for discussion include the number of years workers must contribute to qualify for a full pension, provisions for those who began working when very young, and considerations for women who suspended their careers to care for their children. Macron has backed major changes for years to ensure the system's solvency. Setting the age at 64 already was a compromise, Borne said, per the AP. (More France stories.)

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