Retirement Change Wins Vote Despite Protests, Garbage Piles

French Senate approves raising age from 62 to 64
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2023 1:55 PM CDT
Retirement Change Wins Vote Despite Protests, Garbage Piles
People walk past uncollected garbage Sunday next to the Senate in Paris.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A widely unpopular bill that would raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 has pushed forward with the Senate's adoption of the measure despite labor strikes, street protests, and tons of uncollected garbage piling higher by the day. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne tweeted late Saturday after the 195-112 vote that she looked forward to the bill's definitive passage to "assure the future of our retirement" system. The legislation next must move through tricky political territory with multiple potential outcomes, the AP reports.

Borne called a meeting of government ministers for Sunday evening to “prepare next steps to take the democratic process to the end with a (definitive) vote." Her comment underscored the government's desire to refrain from forcing President Emmanuel Macron's pension plan through without a vote, which is a constitutional option. With labor unions opposed to the bill, uncollected trash has piled up in Paris and other cities while garbage workers strike. Services in other sectors, such as energy and transportation, also have been affected. Paris City Hall said that as of Sunday, some 5,400 tons of garbage were piled in streets of the capital. The stench of rotting fish and other food wafted in the wind, especially around some restaurants.

Unions plan more strikes and an eighth round of nationwide protests on Wednesday, the day the bill heads to a committee of seven senators and seven lower-house lawmakers. The joint committee is tasked with finding a compromise between the Senate and National Assembly versions of the legislation. Parliamentary approval would give a measure of legitimacy to the pension plan. But there are multiple scenarios before the legislation could become law, making its path uncertain. The government has not responded to a union request for a "citizens' consultation" on the legislation, made Saturday after protests against raising the retirement age drew far fewer people than a previous round four days earlier. Unions maintain that French people are voting their opposition to the change in the streets and through strikes.

(More France stories.)

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