France: Massive Strike Over Pension Reform

    France: Massive Strike Over Pension Reform
    Last updated Mar 08, 2023
    Image credit: AFP [via France24]


    • France's interior ministry estimates that 1.28M people participated in a nationwide strike against French President Macron's plans to raise the retirement age to 64.[1]
    • Unions are calling for a nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations to protest the government's proposed pension reform. The unions hope to repeat the success of their first major protest on Jan. 19, when more than a million people demonstrated.[2]
    • The country's unions have vowed to bring the country to a standstill over Macron's proposed changes. Laurent Berger, leader of the CFDT union, said on Monday, "I call on all the country's employees, citizens, and retirees who are against the pensions reform to come out and protest en masse." He added that President Macron "cannot remain deaf" to protesters.[3]
    • Workers at oil refineries across France blocked oil deliveries. Strikes also left thousands without electricity and disrupted schools, airports, and trains.[4]
    • Pres. Macron has placed pension reform at the center of his re-election campaign. But he faced strong pushback from both parliament and the public, with almost two in three people supporting protests against the proposed changes.[5]
    • Macron and his administration say they need to change France's pension system to put it on a firmer financial footing because life expectancy is rising and the ratio of workers to retirees is decreasing. The French National Assembly is debating a bill to reform the pension system; the government hopes the legislation will pass by the end of the month.[6]


    Left narrative

    The determination and spirit shown by the unions and the left-leaning parties are not just an ideological attack against Macron's policies, but also a preemptive strike against the threat of Marine Le Pen's far-right politics. The risk of the Rassemblement National is on everyone's mind, and to fight against such danger via strikes and protests is no longer a moral struggle but a moral obligation.

    Right narrative

    While the central parties, with the help of the left, seek to use the strikes to pressure the government, there’s no guarantee of success. Much is dependent on whether the unions will decide to follow up on their protests, which will only be decided on the evening of the demonstrations.

    Political split



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