On the 14th Day of Strike, Emmanuel Macron Ready to “Improve” the Pension Reform

General News
President Emmanuel Macron in Brussels, December 13, 2019.

His Prime Minister Edouard Philippe received the social partners on Wednesday to try to find a way out of the pension reform crisis.

The day after the third day of demonstrations against the pension reform and three days before the Christmas holidays, Edouard Philippe received on Wednesday 18th December 2019 the social partners with the new “M. Retraites”, to find a way out of the crisis, that Emmanuel Macron hopes to calm down by improving the project.

According to those around him, the president is “willing to improve” his reform, in particular, “around the pivotal age” or “age of equilibrium”, which points to unions supporting the principle of a universal points system, the CFDT in the head.

“It is in the order of things that there is progress by the end of the week,” noted the Elysee, adding that the Head of State had set himself as “objective of get a break “from mobilization” during the holiday season “at the end of the year.

All on the street on Tuesday, union and management leaders were received in turn at Matignon by Edouard Philippe on Wednesday.

“Ideological position” of the government

At the end of his interview, the secretary-general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez, recalled that his organization asked for “the withdrawal of the bill” and regretted the “ideological position” of the government, which does “nothing to appease ( discontent “.

Laurent Escure (Unsa), cautious, noted “openings” notably on “the arduousness, the end of careers, the minimum pension”, but they “remain to be confirmed”.

As for the equilibrium age that the government wants to set at 64, with a “bonus-malus” supposed to encourage everyone to work longer, it is a “punitive measure” and the Unsa does not rule out mobilization. “In January” if the government maintains it, he warned.

Welcoming him too, “overtures”, Cyril Chabanier (CFTC) noted that the government was ready to “make proposals to see how we could perhaps amend” the provisions on this age of balance.

The most eagerly awaited, Laurent Berger, also had to repeat to the Prime Minister his opposition to this measure.

Laurent Berger received in Matignon, December 18, 2019.
Laurent Berger received in Matignon, December 18, 2019. (© AFP / JACQUES DEMARTHON)

Facing them is the new “Mr Retraites”, Laurent Pietraszewski, LREM deputy from the North, who replaced the resigning High Commissioner for Pensions, Jean-Paul Delevoye, caught by revelations on his parallel activities and undeclared mandates.

The High Authority for the Transparency of Public Life (HATVP) announced Wednesday that it had taken legal action for the “omissions” in “number” of Mr Delevoye in his declaration of interests.

After the social partners, Edouard Philippe is due to receive the directors of RATP and SNCF on Thursday, who presented his transport plan for the first weekend of the holidays.

The railway company says it will be able to transport this weekend all passengers who have already booked a TGV ticket. But for the moment, all the railway unions refuse the Christmas “truce”. The transport plan for the period from 23 to 26 must be communicated on Thursday.

In the meantime, traffic will remain “very disrupted” on Thursday at the SNCF, with two TGV on 5 on average, 4 TER on 10 and one Transilien on 4. Traffic also “very disturbed” at RATP, but with a slight improvement since 6 metro lines will remain completely closed against 8 Wednesday. RER A and B will only run during peak hours.

The management of the RATP on Wednesday invited the three unions representing the management to a meeting on the implementation of the reform, but only the CFE-CGC participated and came out disappointed. The CGT and Unsa declined.

The secretary general of the CGT Philippe Martinez (2D) speaks to the press, at the Hôtel Matignon, on December 18, 2019 in Paris
The secretary general of the CGT Philippe Martinez (2D) speaks to the press, at the Hôtel Matignon, on December 18, 2019 in Paris. (© AFP / Thomas SAMSON)

Council of State before Christmas

Tuesday, the third day of mobilization, the unions had gathered in the street 615,000 demonstrators across the country, according to the Interior Ministry. The CGT claimed 1.8 million participants.

Nearly six in ten French people (57%) say they are opposed to the government’s pension reform, a distrust that has increased by 8 points in a week, according to an Elabe poll for BFMTV published on Wednesday.

The CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, Solidaires and the FSU, who demand the outright withdrawal of the project, issued an “ultimatum” to the government after an inter-union Tuesday evening, deciding on new local actions Thursday, and until the end of December. Demonstrations were planned for Thursday, including one in Paris, from Gare de Lyon to Gare de l’Est.

Mr. Philippe has already planned to review the social partners “together during a multilateral” Thursday at 3 pm, a rout conducive to final compromises.

A first version of the bill must be sent to the Council of State “before Christmas”, according to a source familiar with the matter, with a view to its presentation in the Council of Ministers scheduled for January 22nd.

Passengers board a metro at the Gare du Nord on December 18, 2019.
Passengers board a metro at the Gare du Nord on December 18, 2019. (© AFP / Alain JOCARD)

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