French President Emmanuel Macron summoned his ministers for a crisis meeting on Monday in anticipation of more large-scale strikes and public protests against the country’s controversial pension reform.
Members of the French population are protesting against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 and adjust requirements for a full pension. This is apparently necessary to ensure the system does not end up in the red.
Protests have flared up sporadically in recent months and unions in France have indicated they will not give up until the government rethinks its new legislation. Another mass demonstration is reportedly planned for Tuesday in Paris.
The protest movement against the pension reform has turned into the biggest domestic crisis the country has experienced in a long time.
Rhewal used to report that more than 450 people were arrested on Friday, on the most violent day of the demonstration since the beginning of March, while more than 400 members of the public and the country’s security forces were injured.
Macron, whose popularity is currently at an all-time low according to opinion polls, said last week that he accepts the “unpopularity” that comes with the reform.
Its prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, has meanwhile said that although there is no plan to abandon the legislation, she is ready for new discussions with trade unions.
“We have to find the right path… We have to calm down,” she told AFP in an interview on Sunday.
Borne has meanwhile scheduled talks for the next three weeks, including with members of parliament, political parties, local authorities and trade unions.
A state visit to France by Britain’s King Charles III, which was due to start on Sunday, has been postponed due to the current unrest.
Instead, the French government has now gathered for a crisis meeting. The meeting started at around 13:15 (European time) in Elysee.
Borne apparently plans to present the plan for discussions with relevant actors at this meeting to Macron, presidential sources said.
If unions accept her offer for talks, Borne is expected to present new measures aimed at mitigating the effects of the new pension law.
Among other things, this law includes consequences for jobs that are physically demanding, new conditions for older workers and retraining.
At this stage, however, it does not look like unions are going to give up any time soon.
Laurent Berger, head of the moderate CFDT union, which has taken a strong stance against the pension reform, said he would accept the offer of talks, but only if the reform was first “set aside”.
Berger called on the government to come up with a “very big move on pensions”.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, a left-wing leader, said on Sunday that there is “a very simple way” to return to peaceful relations, and that is “to withdraw the law”.
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