French Protest Over Retirement Age Continues
POSTED May 11, 2023
On January 19th, 2023, French citizens started protesting against the government’s new pension plan to immediately raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. More than 1.27 million people protested and eight key unions took part in the strike, which disrupted schools, public transport, and oil refineries.
BBC said “ A reported 11,000 police were deployed to cover the demonstrations taking place in more than 200 towns and cities. Some skirmishes were reported at the end of the Paris route in Place Vauban and 30 people were arrested. The interior minister praised police for their handling of the protests.”
At least 310 people have been detained for protesting. CNN said, “ In a note Thursday night, the interior ministry, in the context of the reaction to the pension reforms, called on security forces to ‘firmly maintain’ protections for elected officials in France, who, ‘are sometimes the object of threats, insults, or even malicious acts such as damage to property.” According to sources, around 55% of secondary school teachers had walked out, although the government said the figure was just over a quarter. High school pupils staged protests outside some schools and students said they would occupy the Paris Institution of Political Studies or Sciences Po University in Paris in support of the strikers.
Even at 62, the French retirement age is still lower than the other countries in Western Europe. BCC said,” Italy, Germany, and Spain have moved towards raising the official retirement age to 67, while in the UK it is 66.” In America, our retirement age is also 67.
On April 5th, French unions tried to keep up with the pension plans after talking with the prime minister failed. Reuters said, “He (Laurent Berger) said the vast majority of people opposed the pension system change and that public opinion was not shifting. The unions’ determination to fight it was unwavering, he added.”
And like with all protests, there is going to be some violence. Reuters stated, “ Police fired tear gas and fought with violent black-clad anarchists in Paris and across France on Thursday as hundreds of thousands of protesters marched against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the pension age.” Some French citizens are known as the “Black Bloc” and have smashed shop windows, demolished street furniture, and ransacked a McDonald’s restaurant.
And as these protests continued to rage on, there were reasons why he raised the retirement age. NPR states that Macron has been discussing this for a while because “There are more and more older people and comparatively fewer workers to fund the government pension.” And another reason is that “Work is very important for French people, but since about 20 or 30 years ago, a lot of jobs have become precarious. [Before], people were hired in an enterprise and if the job was good, they climbed the ladder, and they could obtain a higher position in the company. Now, it’s more and more difficult because people are not hiring [employees] for life. It’s something that has changed in France particularly because that was tradition before. So [now], people say, ‘I can’t think my work is my only goal in my life.'”