Since early December, unions protested against the controversial plans of President Emmanuel Macron to reform France’s famous Byzantine retirement system, under which 42 separate schemes govern different types of public sector employees.
Macron’s idea was to centralize these schemes in a single point-based system in which some workers would earn while others, including transport workers on high-speed rail lines and the Paris metro, would lose. Paralyzing transport strikes followed that continued during the holiday season, disrupting travel plans and disrupting the always lucrative tourism industry in the main French cities.
On Wednesday, François Villeroy de Galha, governor of the Bank of France, the country’s central bank, told a parliamentary committee that strikes, now the longest in France, had reduced economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2019 by up to 0.1 percent
To break the dead end, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe suggested a compromise over the weekend: for now, the government will eliminate the so-called “fundamental age” of 64 years, which is when workers would qualify for a pension complete under the new Macron universal. plan, compared to the current official retirement age of France of 62 years.
The government also announced that it would delay crucial decision making on the financing of France’s famous and generous retirement system until the end of April, although that delay does not exclude possible cuts.
The fundamental era has been a particular point of contention since the beginning of the strikes, and some unions, including the moderate Democratic Confederation of Labor (CFDT) of France, were encouraged by the government’s decision to file it.
The CFDT “welcomes the withdrawal of the fundamental era of the bill, a withdrawal that marks the government’s willingness to compromise,” the union said in a statement. “In this spirit, the CFDT will continue discussions within the proposed framework to answer the remaining questions about the future universal regime.”
Also, the worst traffic strikes are over.
In Paris, the 14 subway lines are operational, although all, except the two that operate automatically, operate on a shorter schedule, mainly to cover the peak hours of peak hours in the mornings and afternoons.
On the immediate outskirts of the capital, three out of four Transilien suburban trains are running, while eight out of 10 long distance trains are now in service, according to the SNCF, The national railway company of France.
Across the country, about 80 percent of France’s renowned TGV high-speed rail service is also back in operation, SNCF reported.
But not all union leaders were satisfied. Philippe Martínez, secretary general of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), wrote a blister letter to the prime minister on Tuesday, rejecting his apparent olive branch.
Martinez attacked what he called the “many uncertainties, inaccuracies or lack of content in different modalities” that he believes remain in the government’s plans.
“Contrary to what you affirm, the government’s strategy, its conception of dialogue and listening will probably not appease the level of dissatisfaction and mobilization that exists in our country,” he wrote.
Reforming France’s retirement system, known here as the “mother of all reforms”, has been a priority for Macron since his election in 2017. Previous presidents who have tried similar reviews have failed, and most gave in to the demands of the unions after paralyzing strikes.
Macron can still get away with it, even if the protests are scheduled to continue and his government has already rejected the proposal to raise the full retirement age. The rest of the proposals remain intact and are likely to be approved by the French parliament earlier this year.