should the government back down in the face of anger?

The pension system in France is based on solidarity between generations (active people finance inactive people) but also on fairness: everyone contributes according to their means, receives according to their needs. This system is now threatened by demographic ageing. The pension reform undertaken aims to perpetuate our pay-as-you-go system and therefore enable future generations to meet the growing need to accommodate retirees in the years to come.

This presupposes a lowering of the age of departure, as well as other concessions that the French intend to fight.

A historic mobilization against the pension reform project

On January 19, more than 1.1 million people gathered across France to demonstrate against the government’s pension reform plan. According to CGT leader Philippe Martinez, no less than “two million” demonstrators participated in the demonstrations. This is the highest number of protesters since the first day of mobilization in December 2019, which testifies to the extent of the anger that has been manifested.

200 demonstrations and some damage reported in some cities

More than 200 demonstrations took place in all regions of France, mostly peacefully. However, tensions and damage have been reported in some cities, notably in Paris. Security forces were confronted with projectile throwing and acts of vandalism, which led to tensions between the demonstrators and the security forces.

The government recognizes a “significant” mobilization

The government recognized a “significant” mobilization and welcomed the “good conditions” in which the demonstrations took place. The Prime Minister reiterated her promise to continue the dialogue with the social partners to find a solution. The Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, acknowledged that the mobilization had been “important” and that it was necessary to respond to it.

Strikes impacted transport and public services

The strikes and mobilization have had an impact on public transport, with disruptions to trains, metros and buses. Ports and airports have also been hit by strikes, causing disruption to travelers and businesses. Public services such as schools, hospitals and courts have also been affected.

Unions will continue strikes and mobilization

The unions have announced that strikes and mobilization will continue so that their demands are taken into account. Discussions on pension reform will continue in the coming weeks and it is possible that changes will be made to the initial draft to take into account the demands of the protesters.

To be continued…

The mobilization is historic and the anger of the demonstrators does not seem ready to go out. The strikes and mobilization have had an impact on transport and public services, and the unions have announced that they will continue to mobilize to make their demands heard. The government must now find a solution to appease the anger of the demonstrators and respond to their demands, otherwise the strikes and the mobilization could increase.

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