French Workers Protest, Strike Against Pension Reforms


Thousands of protesters in France are against pension reform.

Elizabeth Rivera, Staff Writer

Ever since the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, was elected, there has been protests against him and his administration, especially on the topic of his government reforming the pension system. This riled-up people into chaos on the streets that included riots, demonstrations, and other striking methods.

The strikes also disrupted public transportation for 46 days–which also delayed flights. Schools were also greatly affected, so they were cancelled. Over 800,000 people marched across France because they were against the reform for the pension system. Railway workers, teachers, and medical staffs were some of the main factions for the strike.

Protests in Paris as public transportation strike hits

France’s current pension system allows workers to retire at an earlier age, 41 to 43, but it’s usually 62. They get to earn their full benefits as a retiree but it also depends on the pension programs for each individual. For example, railway workers and air crews can retire earlier, but professions such as lawyers or doctors could pay less taxes.

The pension system France currently has works as a group insurance where every worker or employer has to pay payroll taxes that funds the pensions. There are 42 pension programs that work with different pension rights. One of the main programs used is the private sector which covers retirees by 80% which is more of a general pension system.

Macron’s plan to change the pension system is unify the 42 pension programs into one. He doesn’t want to change the age retirement but he does want to make it longer. The retirement age will be at the minimum of 62 but he wants to change it to 64. If people retire before 64, they will get lower pensions.

Macron wants to organize the pension system and make it fair since workers have trouble switching jobs as they also have to change their pension program. This also affects the worker because they will earn less for their pension. Starting in 2022, the new system will change directly for the young people entering the workforce. The new pension system won’t change for the workers that were born before 1975.

AP News
French professionals join forces to protest pension changes

French people are worried that the new pension system will take away their benefits. Especially if they are going to work longer and earn a lower pension. For example, railway workers do not want to lose the benefit of retiring early, while teachers who have a low income will have their pensions calculated for their entire career instead of the final six months.

The strikers of all ages are aware that the most affected ones are the younger ones in the workforce, but everyone is supporting each other for their pensions to not be affected. Since there is lack of clarity in President Macron’s plans, many strikers don’t support his implementation of the new pension system. So there is no telling when the strikes will end, but it seems like they will continue into the future until these issues are resolved.