Jean-Baptiste Reddé has hoisted his giant, colourful signs in nearly every street protest for over a decade, embodying France’s enduring passion for demonstrations, and in the current dispute over Emmanuel Macron's push to increase the retirement age on full pension rights in order to fund the system, he says taxing the country’s rich would be more effective.
A ninth day of nationwide demonstrations in France on Thursday in protest at Emmanuel Macron's pension system reforms saw no drop in turnout on those held earlier this month, with trades unions claiming more than three million took part while police estimated just more than one million.
Following a televised interview on Wednesday in which Emmanuel Macron made his first public comments since forcing his pension reform legislation through parliament without a vote last week, trades union leaders and opposition parties variously slammed the French president for telling 'lies' and showing 'disdain' and 'contempt' for those against the reform, while another nationwide day of demonstrations and strikes against its implementation is to be held on Thursday.
The French government on Monday survived by just nine votes a no-confidence motion in parliament that required 287 in favour to succeed, tabled after President Emmanuel Macron controversially ordered that his proposed reform of the pensions system, including raising the retirment age on full pension rights from 62 to 64, should be forced through parliament by decree.
There were rowdy scenes on Thursday at France's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, after the government announced it is to use an article of the constitution which allows it to force its reform of the pension system through the chamber without a vote, a decisiontaken after it became unsure of gaining a majority of members in favour of the hotly contested draft bill.
The strong opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s proposed reform of the pension system, notably raising for most people the age of retirement on full pension rights from 62 to 64, continued on Wednesday, with another day of nationwide protests, the eighth in succession. As the reform reaches its final passage in parliament, the French president and his government insist that the reform was at the centre of his manifesto for re-election last year, and was therefore supported and legitimized by the electorate. But Mediapart can reveal that a series of opinion polls commissioned by Macron’s election campaign team belie the claim. Christophe Gueugneau and Antton Rouget report.
The number of marchers was expected to surpass the 1.12 million recorded 12 days ago as Macron government pushes ahead with its pension age reforms; opinion polls suggest two-thirds of voters are opposed to the changes.
Day of action is described as a major test for France’s unions, which have united for the first time in 12 years in their “total opposition” to government plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
France's CGT trades union has called for a day of action on Thursday is support of pay increases to ease the cost of living crisis, and against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.