(Paris) President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday evening that he “wants to go to the vote” Thursday in the National Assembly on his disputed pension reform, after an eighth day of demonstrations and strikes in France.
Mr. Macron “wishes to go to the vote” Thursday in the National Assembly, the Elysee Palace told AFP on Wednesday evening after a meeting of the head of state with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne and ministers .
“We must mobilize all parliamentarians in a spirit of responsibility”, “consultations continue tomorrow to continue the mobilization”, it was said in the entourage of the president on the eve of this decisive vote and still uncertain as to the existence of a majority in favor of the reform.
The president does not plan “at this stage” to have it adopted by a 49.3, the article of the constitution which allows a text to be adopted without a vote, we learned from concordant sources in the presidential camp.
Deputies and senators reached an agreement on Wednesday on a common version of the disputed project, with the most decried measure, the postponement to 64 of the legal retirement age.
Thursday, this text will be submitted to the vote of the Senate, where the right-wing and centrist majority should unsurprisingly approve it, then to the National Assembly, where the presidential camp does not have an absolute majority. There, the vote is uncertain: if the right-wing Les Républicains party says it wants to adopt the reform, many rebels in its ranks maintain the suspense.
“I say to parliamentarians, do not vote for this law, it is disconnected from the concrete reality of work”, launched Wednesday Laurent Berger, secretary general of the reformist union CFDT.
The inter-union “solemnly calls on parliamentarians to vote against the bill”. The eight main French unions will hold a press conference in front of the National Assembly on Thursday to try to influence the vote one last time.
The raising of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 crystallizes the anger. Opponents of this reform consider it “unfair”, especially for women and employees in arduous jobs.
The French government has chosen to raise the legal retirement age to respond to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.
France is one of the European countries with the lowest legal retirement age, although the different pension systems are not completely comparable.
A total of 480,000 people marched in France on Wednesday, including 37,000 in Paris, against the pension reform at the call of the unions, according to a count by the Ministry of the Interior.
For this 8th day of mobilization, the CGT union counted 1.78 million demonstrators. Last Saturday, 368,000 people marched in France, according to the Interior Ministry, including 48,000 in Paris.
On the tenth day of strikes by garbage collectors opposed to this reform in the streets of Paris, the accumulation of garbage cans in this world capital of tourism has worsened further, with more than 7,600 tons of waste cluttering the sidewalks, according to the town hall.
The garbage collectors and cleaning agents of the City of Paris voted Tuesday evening to continue the strike “at least until March 20”.
In addition to waste collection in several cities in France, renewable strikes continue in several key sectors.
Strikers from the CGT Énergie union have thus threatened to lower the pressure in the gas networks, otherwise the strikers will take care of it, which could deprive power plants and certain industrial customers of gas.
Workers at four French LNG terminals and 11 storage sites have extended their strike until early next week.
Several refineries were still on strike and rail and air transport remained disrupted.
President Macron plays a significant part of his political credit on this reform, a flagship measure of his second five-year term and a symbol of his stated desire to reform, but which crystallizes the discontent of some French people against him.