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Retreats in France | Day of mobilization test against the reform



(Paris) The French are called on Saturday to demonstrate for a seventh day against a very unpopular pension reform wanted by Emmanuel Macron, against a backdrop of persistent strikes, a test day for the continuation of the showdown between the government and the unions.

The previous day of action against this reform, on Tuesday, was massive and the number of people in the streets set a record, surpassing the peak of January 31, according to figures from the French Ministry of the Interior (1.28 million ) and the inter-union (more than three million).

According to police sources, the participation on Saturday could reach 800,000 to one million people in the 230 demonstrations planned in the country, including 70,000 to 100,0000 in Paris, where the demonstration will start at 8 a.m. (Eastern time). .


Demonstration in Paris

This is the second day of mobilization organized on a Saturday, so as to allow employees to participate without having to ask for a strike day. On February 11, 963,000 people took to the streets according to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 2.5 million according to the CGT union. Participation should be less strong this Saturday, given the mobilizations already underway or completed at midday.

This is the seventh day of action, since January 19, against this pension reform wanted by President Emmanuel Macron and his postponement of the legal retirement age from 62 to 64, at which the French are, according to the polls, mostly hostile, judging it “unfair” especially for women and employees in difficult jobs.

According to an Elabe poll for the BFMTV channel published on Saturday, 63% of French people approve of the mobilization against the reform, 54% supporting the use of strikes and the blocking of certain sectors.

Before the departure of the Paris procession, the two main union leaders challenged the head of state to call a referendum.

“Since he is so sure of himself, the President of the Republic, he only has to consult the people. We will see the response of the people, ”launched the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez. “No doubt we must go to a citizen consultation”, abounded his counterpart from the CFDT, Laurent Berger.

The anger of the unions increased with the dismissal expressed by Mr. Macron in response to their request on Thursday to meet them, considering that the time was in “parliamentary time”, after the “consultations carried out” by the Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and the adjustments already made to the text.

On Friday afternoon, he said the pension reform must go its “full end” in Parliament, hinting that he was not ruling out anything, including resorting to adoption without a vote via Article 49.3 of the Constitution (which allows the government to pass a legislative text without a vote by incurring its responsibility).

Constitutional weapon

On Friday, the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt drew the constitutional weapon (article 44.3 of the Constitution) of the single vote before the Senate, which will have to decide by a single vote on the entire bill, not retaining than the amendments proposed or accepted by the government – ​​approximately 70 in number following the articles under discussion.

Even without a debate or a vote on the thousand remaining amendments, the latter can however simply be presented by their authors. A way to save time… and to give hope to the left that the text “is not put to the vote” before the deadline scheduled for Sunday at midnight.

The senators resumed their debates on Saturday morning, and at midday, after more than two and a half hours of sitting, there were still some 680 amendments to be examined.

The French government has chosen to raise the legal retirement age in response to the financial deterioration of pension funds and the aging of the population.

France is one of the European countries where the legal retirement age is the lowest, without the pension systems being completely comparable.

The French president plays an important part of his political credit on this flagship measure of his second five-year term, a symbol of his declared desire to reform but which today crystallizes the discontent of some of the French against him.

“We must mobilize, including by blocking”, said Saturday morning on RMC the secretary general of Force Ouvrière, Frédéric Souillot.

Uncertainty remains on the question of whether the blockades and renewable strikes taking place since Tuesday and affecting key sectors of the economy (transport, energy, etc.) will continue.


Demonstration in Nantes

Garbage cans are piling up in certain arrondissements in Paris.

And the French air transport authority has asked airlines to cancel 20% of their flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at several airports, due to a strike by air traffic controllers.

On the rail side, the national company SNCF predicted traffic that was still “highly disrupted” for the weekend.

The CGT Energy said Friday that the strikes were continuing, particularly in the power plants.

The gas strike is also continuing in all LNG terminals and gas storage facilities.

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